After one sweltering hot day of sitting in the sun and baking, the Slingshot Bridge of the Gods Kiteboarding Festival went off with a bang on Sunday, August 6.
The amateur competition had a new format this year with three separate categories including Best Trick, Biggest Air, and Kite Loops. The Big Air category added bonuses for going retro and throwing down some old school favorite Deadman maneuvers. An expression session was planned where all the riders would throw down at once and then vote for the top riders.
The Juniors Best Trick Category started off the display as the white caps were just starting to emerge. Despite some insane technical riding by Texan Eddie Hall and Josh Brady, Reed Brady from Floras Lake pulled in the Best Trick for the category. The juniors were later able to show their true mettle when the winds filled in and they got to go for the Biggest Air, Deadmen, and Kite Loops. Reed Brady continued to hold the slight edge winning it all with, up and comer, Eddie Hall pulling a close second.
The women also showed that they could hang with the boys and may have gone bigger than any of them as Laura Maher, Karen Bureker, and Shannon Gormley all had huge aerials and deadgirls to the crowds delight. They stayed consistent through the competition with Laura placing 1st, Karen 2nd, and rising star Shannon pushing them both in a close 3rd.
The masters was ruled by summer local Tony Bolstad who was submitted for DNA testing to prove his age after his riding display. Ken Lucas, Steve Fisher and Tom Sapere also had strong showings in the Masters division.
The men’s category was the best display of kiteboarding seen in the gorge to date as each category played to the unique strengths of each rider. The Best Trick category was ruled by Inept Gangsta Dylan Thompson who had some insane kitelooping handlepassing and rigamarolling. Paul Schommer and Eric Rienstra also had strong showings in the category.
The Big Air & Deadman Category was ruled by the locals as Brad Whiting, Ben Chambers, and Jimmy ‘Yoga Man’ Hunt placed 1st 2nd and 3rd respectively. They narrowly beat out the Austrian Stallion Phillip Holmstrand who went bigger than all but just couldn’t seem to land them.
The wind was starting to wane so we made the best of it and threw all of the confused riders out at once to combine the Expression Session and Kite Loop Category. It was chaos from the buzzer and the crowd was delighted to see 40+ riders battling to show their best on the rivers edge. Huge kite loops gained Brian Wheeler, Ben Chambers, and Josh Solbach the top three positions in the category.
The Festival was a fund raiser for the Stevenson Kid’s Program and it was good to see Renee’s program producing such talent as Ben Chambers, Josh Griffiths, Ian Daly, and McKenna Whitaker who all had strong showings. The event was a huge success due in large part to Slingshot’s sponsorship and all of the volunteer organizers such as Renee. Some other highlights included live music by Amery Bernard and local band 360 as well as the judges swimming/beer guzzling race which occurred during the first day of waiting for wind. The overall Men’s winners as voted by the riders were Stevenson’s own Ben Chambers in 1st place followed by Aquaman Brian Wheeler and Rumrunner Brad Whiting.