SUP team takes training seriously

Big Winds youth stand up paddle program trains hard, and early

MORNING WORKOUTS for 30 members of this summer’s Big Winds SUP team include stretching, yoga and strength training (right) and on-the-water drills like sprints and buoy practice.

Photo by Adam Lapierre.
MORNING WORKOUTS for 30 members of this summer’s Big Winds SUP team include stretching, yoga and strength training (right) and on-the-water drills like sprints and buoy practice.

It’s barely daylight on a Thursday in the middle of August, and instead of lying comfortably in bed as the summer sun climbs over the horizon, 30 teenagers are getting started with their third morning workout of the week. They arrive at the Hood River Event Site by about 6:15 to shake-off the grogginess, prep gear and loosen up before the 90-minute standup paddling workout on the Columbia River.

In its third year, Big Winds’ summer SUP team now has 17 girls and 13 boys, ages 11-19. The squad is divided in two, with the more experienced/advanced paddlers on the Junior Elite Team (JET), and the others on the Development (Devo) Team.

“It’s amazing to see the level of excitement and commitment these kids have for the team,” said Steve Gates, Big Winds owner and team head coach. “We started this program three years ago with just four kids. Last year we had ten and this year there’s 30 and we had to turn more away. I think that speaks loud and clear that the kids really enjoy what they’re doing and the parents support it.”

With the guidance of coaches TJ Gulizia, Gregg Leion, Jim Stevens, MacRae Wylde and Gates, the kids have been practicing Tuesday through Friday mornings since mid-June. Their workouts are intense, and although fun is important, Gates said they’re not out there to goof around, as is evident by the intense tone and pace he maintains during practice.

“I tell the kids there are three things we won’t tolerate: tardiness, laziness and cockiness,” he said. “And they have been following that impressively well. They show up early, work hard and stay humble. It still blows my mind that we can get 30 kids up at 5:30 in the morning, during their summer vacation, to come down and work out four days a week.”

Using the boat basin as a wind-protected home base, the teams venture into the open river when conditions allow. Althougb both teams practice together, the Devo team focuses more on paddling form and technique, while the JET team endures more intense workouts and focuses on specific training objectives like flatwater sprinting, course racing, buoy turning, long distance endurance and upwind and downwind paddling.

“It’s pretty cool to see how hard these kids are training,” Gates said. “I love that fact that they are having so much fun and working so hard in the summer time.”

For most of the team, next weekend’s Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge will be the end of the summer season and the culmination of the last two months of hard work. The third-annual Aug. 17-18 event is bringing many of the best SUP racers in the world to the Gorge to compete in course and relay racing and a spectacular eight-mile downwind race from Viento to Hood River, with more than $18,000 in prize money.

For those who want take the sport to the next level, there are races outside the Gorge all summer long, including the big kahuna of west coast SUP, the Battle of the Paddle Sept. 28-29 at Dana Point, Ca.

“The pro class is going to have some of the best racers in the world,” Gates said of the Paddle Challenge. “Some of our racers competed at that level last year and it was a real eye-opener for them to see just how fast some of these guys are. This year I expect some of them to be right in the hunt. In the open and junior classes, all I can say is look out; these kids are going to wail.”

Team members

JETteam: Fiona Wylde, Alyson Fromm, Derek Fromm, Kirra Paulus, Lilly Paulm Ben Grodner, Ford Huntington, Sofia DeWolfe, Kristian DeWolfe, Lukas DeWolfe

Devo team: Sam Wiley, Connor Dunn, Tyler Tschritter, Cole Tschritter, Zoe Peterson, Hannah Hill, Elle Truax, Nils Engbersen, Sam Davies, Savannah Boersma, Vetea Boersma, Kelli Clarke, Abbey Leion, Valerie Fischer, Daniel Fischer, Leif Bergstrom, Willy DeWolfe, Sascha Bockius, Milena Johnson, Collette Zach

Latest stories

Latest video:

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



Log in to comment

Columbia Gorge news and businesses