Straits wind perfect for world windsurfing event in St. Ignace

A major world windsurfing championship is back in the US this year after a 17 year absence, and it's happening in St. Ignace.

The World Ice and Snow Sailing Championships has brought nearly 100 of the best athletes on ice to Northern Michigan.

Itâ??s called WISSA, an acronym for the World Ice and Snow Sailing Association, where windsurfing hits the next level.

"Wind is everything, really, it is, I mean you need ice for obvious reasons, and then the conditions, and you need a lot of wind," says WISSA Event Organizer Dan Hill.

The plan was to hold the world championships on Lake Huron, but no ice is a problem, so it was moved to Chain Lake. Athletes use the wind to propel wings, kites, and sails and use skates and technique to compete through courses.

One of the events here at the WISSA is the short track slalom. It takes a lot of skill and involves tactics. Here this year: last year's world champion.

"Itâ??s a nice area, real nice area, looks like Sweden," says Lars Fromell.

That's where Lars Fromell and nine of his fellow country members made the nine hour flight from. Last year, he was crowned world champion in the wings slalom event.

â??This is good conditions, as good as they can be around the lake," says Fromell.

â??It's definitely nice to get St. Ignace some attention, I definitely think we're going to do it here next year and the following year," says Hill.

"In a year where there's little snowmobiling and not even a lot for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing or any of our traditional winter events or winter activities, it's been great to have all of this," says Janet Peterson, Executive Director of the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce.

Businesses in town agree, like restaurant owner Tom Sposito, who calls this the worst winter he's ever seen, making business at the Driftwood tough to come by.

â??They really help. Theyâ??re the difference between losing money and making money, definitely," says Sposito.

This weekend, the competition continues with championship rounds and free-style competitions.

Also in St. Ignace this weekend, the Youth Pond Hockey Tournament played on Chain Lake.