2015 Bridge of the Gods Kiteboarding Festival Recap
This past weekend was the 2015 Bridge of the Gods Kiteboarding Festival in Stevenson, WA. What? You've never heard of Bridge of the Gods?! Well make sure you mark it in your calendar for next year. This kiteboarding contest is by far one of the most fun and intimate events that you can participate in.
The best part is that it is fun for every level of riding and encourages anyone of any ability to add a competitive aspect to their kiteboarding. While most kiteboarding contests are intimidating because you might be going up against some double handle-passing pros, this contest is focused on the younger up and coming riders. It's also one of the most unique spots to spectate from. People watch from 20 feet above the water as riders come into the "trick area". With sponsors such as Casa de Sabor (which serve excellent tacos and burritos) and Walking Man Brewery (which provides ample refreshments), you are sure to have a good time watching kiteboarders throw down some tricks.
The event is freestyle focused with judging criteria unlike any other contest. You are judged equally on a 1-10 scale between Amplitude, Technicality, Variety, Risk Factor, Style/Smoothness, Crowd Stoke and Sportsmanship. This means you can get the same score for jumping 30 feet as you can for getting the whole crowd to cheer! To top it off, there aren't many contests that have a 20 mile downwind race through the Gorge at the end of it all.
Day 1 is the Pro day, which is on a Friday as the professionals can usually get off from their 'work' day in order to come and compete. Every year there is a new heavy hitter who comes into town and this year the guy to watch was 2015 Triple S Champion, Sam Light. Throughout the day there was little doubt that Sam would win, but that little doubt had a name; local Hood River shredder, John Perry. In the finals John was trying every trick that Sam did and it made for quite the show. At the end of the day, Sam Light threw down a Slim 7, Blind Judge 5 and a super boosted triple back roll to take the heat. John Perry missed the Slim 7 which would have made for a tough decision for the judges.
The Women's division was a way closer battle, with tons of super talented riders trying to win with their unique style. However, it was Best's very own Rachel Callahan that took 1st place this year with her stylish grab, mega amplitude and powerful kite loops. She won free food for the rest of the summer at a local beach cafe - which is probably the best prize ever giving out at a kite contest. They also run the "Strapless Pro" division on the first day and while there were many talented riders, Matt Elsasser just had returned from the Red Bull Strapless Pro in Tarifa and demonstrated clearly why we has the winner.
Day 2 is the Amateur Day in which you have the Amateur Men, Amateur Women, Groms and Masters division battle it out. They run this part of the contest on a Saturday, specifically so that more spectators come to be part of the non-pro events. The judges of the day consist of pros from the days past, and any amateur who wins their division has to step up to the pros the next year. It's a really aspect that makes this contest incredibly unique. We were pushing for our Team Riders Fritz and DJ Guacomole to make it into the finals, but the Amatuer division was full of incredibly talented youngsters who were throwing everything from stlyish board offs to Heart Attacks. After the competition, the winners of the Amateur division get to pick their prizes from all the sponsors which included a brand new Best 7m GP with Bar!
Day 3 is usually the blowout race in which competitors race for 20 miles from Stevenson to Hood River. You race through all different wind speeds and multiple turns and bends in the river, it's a mental roller coaster and not everyone makes it but everyone has a blast! This year it's been postponed a week and hopefully you will see an update next weekend!
We are proud to be the title sponsor of this event for two years running and want to continue to for years to come.