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Jody Kjoller (front) and Kent Baker, both of Toledo, Ohio, prepare their ice boats for competition Saturday on Lake Christina near Ashby. (Photos by Lowell Anderson, Echo Press)1 / 2
Ice boat racing participants raise their sails before racing Saturday afternoon.2 / 2

The Great Western Challenge DN Iceboat Regatta took place on Lake Christina in Northwest Douglas County last weekend.

About 50 boats were on hand for the regatta, which is sponsored by the Minnesota Ice Sailing Association.

Lake Christina is typically the site of the association's first event each year, due to its shallow depths and quick freeze.

The three-day event included scrub racing Friday, with regular racing Saturday and Sunday. There were more than 35 competitors on hand from all over the U.S. as well as from Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada.

Iceboat racing has been happening in the U.S. for more than 150 years, but has been popular in Europe for more than 400 years.

Iceboating got its start as a fast way to travel and transport goods during the winter months in Europe.

Racers typically reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, although speeds were slower this past weekend due to the warm temperatures.

More information and results from the Lake Christina event can be found online at


An ice boat is a hull attached to a perpendicular cross piece called a runner plank. Three skates, or runners, are attached to the boat, one on each end of the plank and at the fore end of the hull. Ice boats are strictly wind powered and need relatively snow-free ice to sail.

Tara Bitzan

Tara Bitzan is editor of the Echo Press. She joined the company in 1991 as a news reporter. A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University. She and her husband, Dennis, and their children live near Alexandria.

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