Young gun, Bruce Kessler, is a local Swiss team rider and an aspiring snowkiting champion. We caught up with Bruce following the Glacier 3000 snowkiting race in the Swiss Alps to see how it went and what we can look forward to from him this season.
Naish: How long have you been kiteboarding?
Bruce: I have been snowkiting for about 7 years—I started the winter of 2009 at 9 years old. I learned how to kiteboard a couple years later at 11 years old.
Naish: What brought you to start snowkiting? Was it difficult to start?
Bruce: My father has been snowkiting since 1999 so he taught me how. At first it was difficult, but thanks to my father I learned very quickly and was able to go upwind and do some little jumps the first time.
Naish: Do you only ski with your kite or do you ever get out on a snowboard?
Bruce: I’ve tested both but I prefer to snowkiting with skis.
Naish: When did you start competing?
Bruce: I started competing in 2014 at Lake Resia, Italy for the Snowkite Open race and I got 12th place in the men’s division.
Naish: Can you tell me a little bit about the Snowkiting Tour in the Alps this year?
Bruce: This year there is four tour stops. The first stop was a race on the Glacier 3000. The next three stops consist of racing and backcountry competitions. To win the backcountry contest the rider has to cover the most kilometers and fly the highest, all measured with the kitetracker app. The final fourth tour stop is on lake Resia and is also part of the International Snowkite Open.
Naish: What are the biggest challenges you face while snowkiting?
Bruce: For me big challenges are the changing conditions and the avalanche hazards. In competition the biggest challenge for me is to race in low winds; for me this isn’t so easy. I prefer to ride the Naish Draft for racing because it is a really good kite. I am looking forward to my newest challenge, The World Snowkiting Contest in Altosangro 2016, which I’ve been invited to compete in. This is a Backcountry competition with the best snowkiters in the world.
Naish: Do you mostly go snowkiting or skiing? Which do you prefer?
Bruce: I prefer snowkiting! Snowkiting lets you have much more freedom on the mountain; I can go anywhere where the wind is pulling me! When there is no wind, then I go skiing.
Naish: Which Kite do you use? Are there different kites you prefer for different conditions?
Bruce: Last year I used the Naish Torch for everything, but now I use the Naish Park HD for freestyle and the Naish Draft for racing. When the wind is super strong and gusty I use the Naish Pivot because the kite is so stable and direct, and the drifting ability is perfect for backcountry freeriding.
Naish: Do you have any goals for the upcoming season, or some tricks you’ve been working on that we can look forward to?
Bruce: My goals for the upcoming season are to train hard with my younger brother Mike Kessler. We are working on bringing the wakestyle tricks that we do on the water to the snow with our skis. My goals in competition are to win the International Snowkite Open in Freestyle ski since I placed third at this competition last season. I also want to do well in the Swiss Snowkite tour and the World Snowkite Contest Altosangro in 2016.