An afternoon with pro kite boarder Kris Kinn

The conversation happened right around noon. I was working on a story about the sport of kiteboarding and about Kris Kinn — a Western New Yorker who happens to be on the pro tour and one of the best females in the sport. As I typed away on my laptop taking notes during the phone interview, kite boarder Bill Myers (also known as the wind wizard) informed me that a bunch of people were headed to Hamburg beach as we speak to do some kiting. And, as it turned out, Kris was back in town in between pro gigs and was headed there to train.

To be honest, I balked at first. I had a to-do list. Oh, that to-do list, my nemesis created by the Legion of Doom to (a) keep  me from having fun and (b) turn fun things into to-do chores. So, let’s shift the mindset. Seriously, I tell myself. You were invited to go hang out at the beach and take in the spectacle of kite boarding. On what planet do you pass up that opportunity? Why is this even a conversation?

Among the unique features of the sport of kite boarding is that one can’t plan to do it. It all depends on the wind. With an eye on the forecast, a knowledge of weather conditions and sometimes good luck, kite boarders take advantage of the good weather opportunities as they come. That can mean rearranging those to-do lists at the kick of a good gust of wind in order to follow their passion.

Hello life lesson. Thanks for dropping by.

The less I see life as zero-sum game, the more fun I have. The more interesting people I meet. The more inspired and energized I become. And ultimately, I end up accomplishing more than if I stuck to my pre-determined path to “success” guided by a increasingly long to-do list. So Tuesday afternoon found me at Hamburg beach, getting an up-close view of kite boarding which kindled feelings of fun and freedom.

Kris wanted to get me on a board but this was not the right time for me to do that. I needed to soak it all in. I needed to feel the strong gust of wind on the beach and watch Kris practice her professional maneuvers:


This is the second time I got to meet with Kris in person, preparing for an upcoming story in The Buffalo News about her success as a pro kite boarder (Really, did you know there were pro kite boarders? Did you also know the sport made it into the 2016 Summer Olympic program?). She learned to kite board right here, on the Lake Erie shoreline. She decided to pursue the sport as her career. She followed her passion by purchasing a one-way ticket to Greece where she started teaching and practicing and competing. Not quite a life plan with a scheduled to-do list. Now, she has sponsors and podium finishes and a desire to help bring more people, especially women, into the sport.

She has technical skill and athleticism bolstered by passion and determination. She’s doing what she loves. She is creating her own life and while opportunities may appear in front of her, they come her way not by accident, but because she drew them to her. All right, so I still have an interview to transcribe and a writing project took a back seat for another day. Not a bad trade off for time well spent with a kick ass pro kite boarder. Now, if only I could find some beginner-friendly conditions. Flying across the water with a kite? Well, that looks like too much fun to pass up.

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