In 1961, President Kennedy
launched the race to put the first man on the moon. Now, 47 years
later, a different kind of moon expedition has begun across the nearly
barren moon-like surface of the North Dakota prairie in winter.
On Monday, the "2 Cross the Moon" expedition saw off three athletes on a more than 390-mile adventure snowkiting across North Dakota. The event's goal is to promote awareness of the state's wind energy potential. It's a task they attempted once before but, because of last year's abnormally warm winter, they were unable to finish.
According to its Web Site, 2xtm.com, the event's name was proposed by videographer Tad Erickson and draws from Kennedy's vision of putting the first person on the moon.
The three athletes will be followed by an education crew, making stops in cities along the way to give presentations on snowkiting, as well as talks on wind energy and climate change.
"Climate change provides us with a challenge even more daunting than reaching the moon," the expedition's education coordinator Jason Schaefer said.
The education crew will be in Bismarck from Feb. 21 to 26.
Although the athletes, Sam Salwei, Jason Magness and Paul Cassedy, will be passing through Bismarck, it's unknown exactly when they will be coming.
According to Schaefer, it really depends on the wind. Snowkiting relies on the wind as a source of power. Athletes are pulled across the snow on either skis or a snowboard by a "giant paraglider-like canopy."
If the athletes do end up in Bismarck at the time of the presentations, they'll participate as much as they can.
All of the presentations done by the education crew are free and most are open to the public, aside from school presentations.
On Feb. 21, there will be an educational presentation at Horizon Middle School, followed by snowkiting lessons from 3:30 p.m. until dark.
The first community presentation will be on Feb. 22 at the south campus of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at the intersection of Washington Street and Divide Avenue. The presentation will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and will be on wind energy and climate change.
There also will be an educational presentation at Bismarck High School from 12:50 to 3 p.m. Feb. 22 and a concert at the AMVETS club, featuring Fat Dad and Luke Graner.
Then, there will be a Kid Wind workshop hosted by the Gateway to Science on Feb. 23. Kid Wind is an organization that is dedicated to improving education on wind energy.
According to its Web Site, kidwind.org, "Our goal is to introduce as many people as possible to the elegance of wind power through hands-on science activities."
The Kid Wind workshop will have two parts. From 9 a.m. until noon, they will have a workshop at the High Prairie Arts and Science Complex for educators. Teachers can register for the workshop by contacting Beth Demke or Amanda Person at 258-1975 or by e-mailing beth@;gscience.org. Then, from 2 until 4 p.m., there will be the Wind Energy Challenge, which is open to the public.
Also on Feb. 23, there will be a snowkiting clinic at Bismarck State College. The clinic will be held from noon until 5 p.m. at the soccer field next to the Community Bowl and will include free snowkiting lessons.
There will be another snowkiting clinic at Huff Hills the next day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with free snowkiting lessons every hour on the green run.
Then, there will be two more educational presentations - the Catholic Cathedral education presentation and a fifth-grade education presentation - on Feb. 25 and 26.
More information on any of the activities, as well as maps of the athletes' progress and more, can be found on the event's Web site.
(James Ziegler is a Bismarck State College student. He can be reached at 302-0822.)