In 2021, Porsche announced a partnership with Rita Arnaus, one of the world’s leading kitesurfers. As Spanish champion and 2021 Vice World Freestyle Champion, the 26-year-old is now a familiar sight to millions of extreme sports fans, riding big waves from southern Europe to South America.
As part of her introduction to the Porsche family, Arnaus was recently invited to take part in the Porsche Ice Experience, offering her the chance to sample a different set of high adrenaline challenges in a very different setting. It would also give her the opportunity to try her hand at the hitherto unfamiliar sport of snowkiting.
The Porsche Ice Experience is based in Levi, Finland, inside the Arctic Circle. Amid jaw-dropping winter landscapes, guests are driving from the hotel a few kilometres to a dedicated ice driving facility some 350,000 square metres in size. Here, in various carefully designed training areas, many of the world’s most accomplished advanced driving instructors share the secrets of high-performance handling with sports car enthusiasts from all over the world.
Held from early January to the end of March when the weather is at its coldest, the Porsche Ice Experience teaches the theory and practice of driving on ice, and in doing so imparts an invaluable understanding of on-the-limit car control that has practical applications in the real world, from safety on the road to greater gains on track.
Out of the comfort zone
For Arnaus, above all it was a new challenge to face down, another tick on her expansive and evolving wish list. “I can’t put into words all the fun I had,” says the beaming Spaniard. “We started on basic tracks to get the hang of it, and as we increased the difficulty, it just got more and more fun. The last track was in a forest and it was the most challenging one because there was no room for mistakes, but as I’d already had a few hours of training, I could see a lot of improvement in my driving skills. The teachers were so helpful and professional, and it helped to have a walkie-talkie to hear their advice while I was actually driving. I was loving it and felt really confident.”
Behind the wheel of a 911 Carrera 4S, Arnaus demonstrated the same determination that has seen her become a champion in her chosen discipline, and in little time she was revealing a remarkable mastery of ice driving. “I’m a very curious person and I always want to challenge myself,” she explains. “I believe that if we push our limits and knowledge, if we’re open to new horizons, we will become the best version of ourselves. On this trip to Finland, I have definitely stepped out of my comfort zone and learned a lot during these new experiences.”
Lapland snowkiting round
Once out of the car, there was another challenge to meet. Arnaus took her first turn at snowkiting, her natural balance and ability to read and manipulate Finland’s bitter winter winds launching her high above the Arctic tree line. “The wind from the mountain gives you plenty of hangtime, so it makes it easier and a lot of fun to jump and to stay longer in the air. I could even do a few of the tricks that I do in the ocean. With great conditions and a clear sky over Lapland, I had the best first experience with snowkiting!”
“I’ve never been that far north, so I did as many new things as I could,” she says. “I went for a husky ride and saw reindeer in the wild, I experienced swimming in an ice hole and the cherry on the cake was seeing the Northern Lights. The trip meant plenty of new adventures and ticking off a few more dreams from my wish list.”
The Porsche Ice Experience was founded in Finland in 1996 but has since been extended to offer similar opportunities in southern Europe, the Far East and North America. Canada’s Porsche Ice Experience was established in 2011 in Mecaglisse, Quebec and joined Finland in reopening in 2022 after it remained closed last year during the pandemic. The trips vary in length and offer different programmes that cater for all levels of experience and skill, all in an environment that the guests would otherwise be unlikely to encounter, as Arnaus discovered on her recent excursion to Levi.