World champion kitesurfer and adventurer Kari Schibevaag (40) loves the playground the Tromsø region offers all year round. In summer she runs her own surf centre in Lofoten. However, as soon as autumn and winter come, the newly crowned snow kite world champion packs her surf van with all sorts of sports gear and warm clothes and heads further north to do what she likes best: Being out in nature.
Text: Lone Helle. Photo: Lars Erik Tunby
Born in the south of Norway, Kari feels like she’s from the north – only missing the accent. Having travelled over the world as a professional kiter and adventurer, she has visited exotic destinations, such
as Brazil, Hawaii, South Africa and Australia. Then she discovered Northern Norway. “Northern Norway is one of the most amazing places on earth. The mountains, the sea, the life and atmosphere – it’s unique. If I were to choose a city to live in, I would choose Tromsø in a heartbeat. It has everything you can dream of. However, it’s not a typical city. It’s perfectly located, surrounded by nature. Tromsø has everything I need. It’s the perfect playground,” says Schibevaag.
For the past few years, Schibevaag has returned to the Tromsø region every winter. Within the last year she has done kitesurfing at Sommarøy, skiing in the mountains surrounding Tromsø, dog sledding in Brøstadbotn, and whale watching, kiting and paddle boarding off the coast of Skjervøy, to mention but a few of her adventures. And she always travels with her best friend, Truls, a 10-year-old Jack Russel Terrier. Schibevaag loves the endless of opportunities for adventures the Tromsø region offers, with activities and tours for every level – whether you’re a beginner or a professional. “The city consists of small, narrow streets with different coloured houses that light up the city. Walking in the shopping street, you can see the mountains on the horizon, and you feel like you’re already at one with nature. Just a short drive around or o¦ the island of Tromsø, you’ll feel like you’re in the countryside, with possibilities for short and long mountain hikes. There are several amazing kite spots and it is, without a doubt, a paddle board paradise. Not to mention the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights lighting up the skies,” Schibevaag says enthusiastically. Her ice blue eyes sparkle when she talks about her relationship with nature. Having four seasons, all very distinctive in the North and all equally amazing, according to Schibevaag, is one of the best things about Northern Norway. “The light is magical, whether you’re here for the autumn/winter season, experiencing the darkness brightened up by the Northern Lights, or during summer when the Midnight Sun colours the skies. During summer, the orange light in the middle of the night, is the best. I love that!” Schibevaag doesn’t hesitate in stating that the raw North Norwegian winters and the constantly changing weather create the best opportunities for fun activities. She can even turn bad weather into something positive. “The stormy days offer the perfect conditions for kiting! If you have the right equipment and skis, that’s no stress. It is rarely too cold when you are active. However,
you get cold quite quickly when you stop whether it’s kiting in the Arctic sea or going cross-country skiing. The key if you get cold is to change into dry, warm clothes, but that applies for a outdoor sports. Always bring wool and an extra change of clothes when you are out in nature. That is a true life-saver in the north in any season.
Edit: This article was first written for the Tromsø Guide 2019/2020.