Ro-Sham-Throwdown brings out kiteboarding's best

July 16, 2011


Tom Court making a “nose-press” look easy during the Ro-Sham Throwdown

With a mix of influences from wakeboarding, snowboarding and skateboarding, an increasingly popular style of kiteboarding is evolving on Hood River's doorstep, and thanks to a handful of dedicated year-round residents and an open-minded local government, the sandbar is one of the few places in the world where it has taken root.

With movable sliders, boxes, rails and ramps anchored into the sand, a terrain park of sorts has been set up for the last few summers at the east end of the Hood River delta. The advanced features are used by kiteboarders, much like jumps and features are used by snowboarders and skiers in a terrain park; but instead of using gravity to build up speed, kiteboarders use wind power to pull them across the features.

As a testament to the exceptional conditions and progressive approach to the evolution of the sport, a third-annual event this week has attracted many of the best kiteboarders in the world to Hood River. The Ro-Sham-Throwdown started with qualifier rounds Wednesday afternoon and will wrap up either Saturday or Sunday, depending on wind.

"The geography of the area allows for a very unique opportunity for the community," said Forrest Rae, event co-founder. "This is one of the only places in the world where the conditions line up, and where the community and policy-makers come together to allow this kind of thing to happen."

The features, which are utilized by kiteboarders throughout the summer, are built by the Hood River Slider Project, a volunteer non-profit organization that Rea and fellow kiter Joby Cook started a few years ago to be able to raise money need to invest in high-quality construciton materials.

The five-day event this year features about 60 competitors, two days of qualifier rounds and a single-elimination tournament of sorts that will narrow the field down to a finale Saturday afternoon (if wind allows) to determine the best of the best out of a group that is already the best of the best.

"Judging will be based on style, power and the ease at which riders make things look," Rae said. He continued by recognizing the cooperation from several agencies. "We've worked with the Port of Hood River, the City of Hood River, the Oregon State Marine Board, Department of State Lands and the Hood River Sheriff Marine Patrol. An open-minded approach from all the parties involved has made this possible."

Depending on water levels, the best place to watch the event will be either the east end of the sandbar via the Spit parking area or, if water is too high, from the marina swim beach. Look for the best action Saturday starting when the wind picks up and ending with the finals in the afternoon.

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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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