Desire, work ethic keep kiteboarder sailing along

In the sport of kiteboarding, you have to want to be the best in order to be the best.

As most premier kiteboarders will tell you, it takes equal parts talent, drive and sacrifice to reach the pinnacle of their sport. But, because competitive kiteboarding is such an individual endeavor, it’s not for everyone.

Like windsurfing, snowboarding and skateboarding, it’s the kind of sport that takes years of patience and practice before you can settle into a groove. The earlier you get started, the better.

At least that’s the philosophy of 14-year-old Dylan Thompson, who is nearing the end of his second summer of kiteboarding in the Gorge.

“I feel like I have an advantage getting started so young,” said the Hood River Valley High School freshman, who caught onto the sport in Maui during the summer of 2000, and is already sponsored by kite manufacturer Gaastra.

“Not a lot of guys my age are out there, so I’ve been forced to keep up with the best out at the Sandbar and in Rufus. It can be intimidating, but it’s mostly fun,” he said.

Thompson entered his first formal competition this summer at the Bridge of the Gods (Aug. 10 in Stevenson, Wash.), and said he hopes to join the field at the 2003 Gorge Games.

“I figured out how to jump at the end of last summer, which is what the competitions are all about,” said Thompson, who learned most of his tricks from his father, Mark, and local kiteboarding gurus like Adam Koch, Lou Wainman and Cory Roeseler.

“I started trying some new tricks this summer — various rolls, spins and grabs — and I hope to continue practicing them at the mountain this winter,” he said.

Thompson is just as intrigued by snowboarding and skateboarding, and says that both sports help keep him sharp on the river. That comes as no surprise to Roeseler.

“I think the appeal at that age is all the skate-style moves,” said the fellow Gaastra representative. “The heroes in the sport of kiteboarding are all freestylers and it’s no wonder that’s he’s inspired by them.”

Roeseler has worked with Thompson over the past two summers, offering advice and moral support whenever needed.

“Dylan is an impressive 14-year-old,” he said. “It’s great to see his dad so involved as well. Kiteboarding is such an individual sport, and it takes a certain mindset where you drop everything and try to become the best. Dylan appears to have done that.”

Roeseler, who also began kiteboarding in his teen years (age 17), said the two things that strike him most about Thompson are: 1) that he’s out there every day with a bunch of older guys, always trying to get better; and 2) that he finishes the tricks and lands them cleanly.

“A lot of newcomers tend to be a little sloppy, but Dylan has already figured out his own style,” Roeseler said. “It’s only a matter of time before he’ll be competitive at the Gorge Games and Bridge of the Gods.”

Thompson will continue to hone his skills throughout the fall, and plans to sign on with the Summit Snowboard Team this winter.

He also hopes to get involved with a kiteboard camp next summer as well as the production of a video — two projects spearheaded by his kiteboard instructor friend, “Maui.”

“All I can do is keep practicing and learning from the best,” he said.

With that attitude, it shouldn’t be long before Thompson can include himself among the best.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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