Hanks, Solbach soar at Bridge of Gods

Third-annual kiteboarding event attracts big wind, top amateur competitors

STEVENSON, Wash. — There’s never a guarantee when you rely on Mother Nature, but every once in a while, she rewards you for your patience.

Saturday’s Naish Bridge of the Gods Kiteboarding Festival not only attracted the region’s top amateur competitors; it also brought with it some ungodly winds — the kind that freestyle kiteboarders dream about.

“Stevenson is known for its smooth, steady wind, but it was really kickin’ at the start today,” said men’s competitor Jim Bison. “These are the conditions we were hoping for.”

Bison and the rest of the field — a total of 28 men and nine women — were treated to an afternoon of gigantic gales and swirling swells, which made the third-annual event one to remember.

“We really hit on our mission this year, which was to establish the Bridge of the Gods as the premier amateur kiting event in North America,” event coordinator Floyd Wilkes said.

“It’s well known that if you come to the Bridge and win, you’re ready to go pro,” he said.

The most likely competitors to make the jump would be men’s champion Sky Solbach of Lyle, Wash., and women’s champ Renee Hanks of Stevenson, who also finished second at last month’s Ford Gorge Games.

Solbach, who was coming off a fifth place at the Gorge Games and a third place at a world-class event last week in the Canary Islands, said he aspires to become pro, but was more focused on enjoying himself last weekend.

“Bridge of the Gods is all about having fun and laughing with your friends,” he said. “It’s a lot less of a media production and it really focuses on the local talent. That’s the draw for me.”

Despite his relaxed attitude, Solbach showed the spectators and the rest of the men’s field how far he has come, turning the trickiest aerial maneuvers and landing everything clean.

And, although the winner wasn’t a huge surprise, Adam Finer and Dave Smith of Hood River still put on a spectacular show to take second and third, respectively. Chip Wasson of San Francisco finished fourth.

On the women’s side, three more local upstarts — Karen Bureker, Stacy Boggs and Charlotte Buri, all of Hood River — also made their mark, rounding out the top four in the standings.

“It’s pretty safe to say that the best amateur riders in North America hail from the Gorge,” Wilkes said.

“As evidence of that, you don’t have many people from outside the area coming here to challenge them, while some of our top riders, like David Tyburski, can go elsewhere and win,” he said.

Wilkes thanked Tyburski’s New Wind Kiteboarding School, along with the Port of Stevenson, Naish Kiteboarding, Ultra Nectar, Wipika and Widmer Brewing for sponsoring the event.

Event director Cat Betts and volunteer Wayne Kirschner were also integral to its success.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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