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Snowkiters get a lift from the worst of winter

GARRISON, Minn. -- The National Weather Service says this is the most miserable Minnesota winter in 30 years. Mike Bares strongly disagrees.

"Aw, get over it!" he says. "Enjoy it. Get out there."

Snowkiters compete on Lake Mille Lacs outside Minneapolis.
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Bares was one of 100 people CBS News met snowkiting on Lake Mille Lacs outside Minneapolis. It was 10 below zero. They were gathered for the 10th annual Kite Crossing race, which usually signals the end to the season is near.

A 26-foot air foil can pull riders on skis or snowboards at speeds of up to 60 mph.

"We don't feel the cold," says Mike Kratochwill, who owns a snowkite supply shop. "We actually kind of revel in it."

For Kratochwill, this winter has been a bonanza.

A 26-foot air foil can pull riders on skis or snowboards at speeds of up to 60 mph.
CBS News
"These kites and this sport kind of takes the chill away," he says.

The sport began in Europe during the 1970s and caught on in Minnesota, well known as the land of 10,000 lakes. Many of them froze solid in December. The snow and ice on Lake Mille Lacs is so thick, the snowkiters could be at it until May.

"You have to have something in the winter to keep you busy," says 80-year-old Dorian Olson, who took up snowkiting when he was 68.

Dorian Olson
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Olson says he may be addicted to the wind.

"I was out a couple of days ago and all of a sudden, it went up to 30, lifted me up right in the air," Olson says. "Put me down about 20 feet beyond, and I said, 'That's enough of that.'"

Many people would look at Olson and ask why he's doing it.

"Why not?" he replies.

Surfers may dream of the endless summer. On Lake Mille Lacs, it's all about the endless winter.