Kicking off a new sport: Kicksleds come to River Bend Nature Center | Local News


CALEDONIA — Minnesota resident and Racine native Melisa Christensen has a delicate spot for the River Bend Nature Center, 3600 N. Green Bay Road. A delicate spot for the packed snow and the frozen ice particularly.

“We would explore it when I was younger, when the ice was frozen,” she mentioned. “I was 6, 7, 8 years old.”

She discovered a manner to give again to the character heart that fostered so a lot of these fond reminiscences for her by offering them kicksleds to attempt by means of her enterprise, Brave the Snow.

“This little pocket of wild in Racine left an impression,” she mentioned.

River Bend Nature Center Executive Director Jeanne Dernehl demonstrates how to journey a kicksled. 

Diana Panuncial

What is kicksledding?

According to Brave the Snow, a kicksled (which originated from Scandinavia) resembles a chair with handlebars connected to skis. The individual controlling the kicksled stands on the metallic runners and powers the sled by kicking — “Sort of like a scooter for the snow,” Christensen wrote in a launch.

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Kicksleds are at the moment obtainable to hire at River Bend with acceptable snow situations. There are adult-size and kid-size kicksleds; the grownup sizes can maintain roughly two youngsters and one grownup. They are $15 an hour.

A baby-sized kicksled is seen at left, subsequent to an adult-sized mannequin.

Diana Panuncial

Jeanne Dernehl, government director of River Bend, recommends hard-packed snow of a minimum of 4 inches or sturdy ice — situations yow will discover on the nature heart.

“The best place for them to be is going to be on trails that have already been used for skis and snowshoes,” Dernehl mentioned.

Jeanne Dernehl mug

Kicksleds have been round for over a century. They have been primarily manufactured in Sweden, Norway and Finland, however many have gone out of enterprise. Christensen’s small enterprise retails kicksleds and equipment on-line, and he or she additionally runs a weblog on the location with extra tales and details about the game.

Christensen first found kicksledding in 2019, however there was no native possibility for her to purchase kicksleds. She noticed potential within the sport and needed to introduce it to totally different elements of the nation, particularly since most individuals have by no means heard of it, she mentioned.

She opened Brave the Snow in January 2021, coming from a profession background in schooling.

Melisa Christensen

Melisa Christensen is the proprietor of Minnesota-based Brave the Snow.

There’s no snow but within the Racine space — “It stinks!” Dernehl mentioned, laughing — however when it hits and accumulates sufficient, the middle goes to be open for seven days a week to give everybody a probability to check out the kicksleds.

It’s for anybody

Christensen introduced the kicksleds to the oldsters at River Bend at one level. “They had never seen a kicksled before but they were eager to try them out,” she wrote within the launch.

After cruising the paths, River Bend workers mentioned, “Kicksledding makes you feel like a kid again.”

“There’s no learning curve,” Dernehl mentioned. The workers will educate you in regards to the kicksleds if you happen to’re , however it doesn’t take a lot to find out how to do it.

“It’s an easy sport,” Christensen advised a reporter. “You don’t need lessons, you just know it naturally.”

At River Bend

Heidi Christensen and Rhoda Frederiks, who was then not fairly 2, kicksledding at River Bend Nature Center final winter.

Any age vary can attempt it and modify how they journey the kicksleds to their consolation. For instance, the workers at River Bend who tried them out ranged from youngsters to these of their 70s.

“It really accommodates a lot of people,” Dernehl mentioned.

Not solely is kicksledding accessible for most individuals, it is usually a sport that may be loved safely within the outdoor amid the continued COVID-19 pandemic, Dernehl identified.

Outdoor tourism basically has bolstered Wisconsin’s economic system for the reason that pandemic started. Wisconsin’s out of doors recreation trade contributed $7.8 billion to the state’s gross home product, in accordance to a 2020 report from Travel Wisconsin.

Tyler Rottmann snowshoeing

Tyler Rottmann, heart, of Oak Creek makes use of ski poles Saturday as he hikes on snowshoes by means of River Bend Nature Center, 3600 N. Green Bay Road, Caledonia. Also pictured are his siblings Jake Rottmann, far proper, and Maddie Rottmann, left.

Rachel Kubik

It’s been a blended bag of site visitors at River Bend, she mentioned. Schools haven’t visited the middle on a area journey for the reason that starting of COVID, however “a lot of new people came in within the last two years. We have a lot of new friends.”

“We just want to remind people that (the center) is still a safe option,” Dernehl mentioned.

For extra info on kicksledding and the place in Wisconsin you possibly can kicksled, go to

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