Day one of the 2015 Bridge of the Gods kicked off with the Pro division. Judging was based on crowd stoke, sportsmanship and diversity of moves to avoid one trick ponies. After three rounds of competition, a last chance final and a finals preview, the women’s, strapless, and men’s finals prevailed.
In a no-girl-left-behind effort, the women’s finals was derailed after a Raley to Blind attempt, with Lindsay McLure’s kite crashing into a tree. When attempting to retrieve Linday’s kite, Rachel Callahan’s kite released, propelling it downwind. Sensi Graves raced down to catch Rachel’s kite as Laura Maher, carrying Rachel on her back, shuttled her down to grab her bar and relaunch her kite. With 7 and a half minutes left, the heat restarted. The progressive Women’s final included Lindsay’s Back Mobe attempts, Rachel’s styley front roll downloop with a nose grab, Erin Mayer’s low and controlled toeside backroll to toeside, Sensi’s solid and consistent Raley to Blind, and Laura’s S-Bend to Blind.
In the Strapless division, Cynthia ‘Cynbad’ Brown represented the ladies as the only strapless women’s competitor. For the men, returning from the Redbull Strapless Pro, Cabrinha’s Matt Elsasser was the man to watch, pulling shov-its, strapless front rolls and some lofty airs from his bag of tricks. Riding a skimboard, event MC, Grom Gormley, landed a board-off skim transition while Mitch Lawrence pleased the crowd with multiple double backroll boardoff attempts. Brad Gordon pumped his kite, making the universal sign for “I have no wind in my kite” as the wind dropped at the 2-minute mark and the riders struggled to make it back to land at the end of their heat.
After a brief pause, the wind came back up for a dynamite men’s final. Stacked with international superstar Sam Light, local hero John Perry, blonde-haired beauty Drew Christianson, young gun Chase Hasch, and world-class traveler Blaine Baker, the boys took to the water with big kites. The heat began with all eyes on Sam. Drew, aka Mr. Smooth, was super casual with big airs, long grabs and late wrapped landings. Chase rode aggressively and landed a back mobe while Blaine kept the crowd amused with his bag of multi-grab tricks. John Perry gave fellow Slingshot teammate, Sam Light a run for his money. The two were neck and neck and going trick for trick with Slim 5s, 315s and Double Front to Blinds. Staying hot on Sam’s tail, John landed KGBs both ways, but it was Sam who took the spotlight landing double handle passes, a lofty 317 on the outside and a Slim 7 in front of the judges.
With money and booze at stake, each podium place was awarded cash, gear and a bottle of wine donated from Cascade Cliffs Winery. Equal prize money was divided between the strapless, women’s and men’s podiums. This year, a dual stoke award was given to kiteboarding power couple Lindsay and Blaine for cheering the loudest, stoking up the crowed and both going out of their way to help or save other kiters.