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Style with Ease: Dylan Thompson

May 16, 2008

Author: Lance Koudele

Dylan Thompson does what he wants, when he wants. It would be easy to dismiss the kid sporting the steezy tall tee and mint New Era cap as just another punk, but the kid is legit. His style comes from the simple fact that he does things for himself and for no one else. That may sound selfish, but it really isn’t. It’s about a personal code of honour that answers to his own inspiration. It doesn’t turn on and off at the request or demand of others. It’s about measuring himself and his actions to the essence of his being.
    The first time I saw and shot Thompson was when I poached a late-afternoon photo session taking place at the Sandbar in 2003. I didn’t know it at the time, but the photographer was a guy named Stephen Whitesell. It was apparent why Thompson was the subject of his focus. Even to my untrained eyes, his style was unique. His kiting was ahead of the curve. Never satisfied with the current status of kiting, Thompson has looked toward the future, progressing the sport and inspiring others while crossing influences from snowboarding to skateboarding.
    He carries himself on and off the water with a quiet presence. His voice is soft and his words are few, coming only after they are validated against the intrinsic judge within.

Raised: Hood River, Oregon
Current residence: The Hood; Salt Lake City, Utah
Years riding: 7
Sponsors: Slingshot, Dakine, Inept Films
Quiver: Response board, Fuel kites
Places visited in 2007: Hatteras, Baja, Oregon Coast
Favourite place: Sandbar
Favourite tricks: Nose Press, Back to Blind

Tell me about the Triple S contest this year. You placed pretty well, eh?
I did pretty well, and it was a really fun event. I got second place in rails. That is what I was really focusing on. There’s a lot more going on than other contests there. Instead of just a couple minutes to do your thing, the Triple S lets you throw down all weekend when you’re feelin’ it. It’s a lot more fun and a better atmosphere to be a part of.

People were surprised with your performance there. I heard someone call you the dark horse.
I’ve been snowboarding and skateboarding rails a long time. I didn’t consider myself a dark horse; I just did what I’ve been doing for a long time now.
What other contests did you enter this year?
I did the local Gorge comp, the Bridge of the Gods, and that’s it. I focused my summer more on making the Inept video.
What’s up with the Inept crew?
It’s all the homies up in Oregon kiting every day. We released our first video called The Most Underrated. I think it turned out pretty well. It’s online for free download at Everyone can go and check it out. I’m sure they’ll be stoked. The Inept crew has been on the grind the last few years. We build a park every summer and film every day. Our homie Joby [Cook] is a contractor, so we come up with a dope idea and he designs and builds it. Everyone kicks down coin to make it happen. It’s definitely been a learning process, and Inept’s got it locked down.
Where do you get your ideas for what you want to build?
Most of our ideas come from rails we’ve skated or snowboarded. We usually come up with an idea in the spring, but I know the idea of a pool and down rail has been thrown around.
What do you think of people who are disrespecting what you’re attempting and calling the rails an eyesore in Hood River?
We do a good job of keeping it low-key. We try to paint them so they look natural. We even have some that we pull out and move after using them. If you don’t like it, I’m sorry, but there is definitely a lot of things all over Hood River making my eyes a lot more sore than our sliders. We’re really just trying to do something progressive with the sport. I guess you’ll always have someone resisting that and complaining because they need something to hold back and complain about. Overall, though, I think it’s a very positive movement.
A few years ago there was a monster rail that was never slid. What happened?
We built an up-flat-down that was about 80 feet long and 15 feet high. We put it out and anchored it. The water came up overnight and floated it right out of there. It was a shitty situation, since it cost a G in sponsors’ money. We learned a lot about setting up and keeping sliders from that one.

What perception do other boardsport athletes have of kiteboarding? What do your Utah bros think about kiting?
It depends. A lot of my friends didn’t even know about [kitboarding], but when they see someone killing it with style, they’re always stoked.
How about snowkiting—any interest there?
It looks fun. I haven’t been, though. I’m usually super busy with snowboarding all winter.
You’ve worked with a few different sponsors over the years. How has Slingshot been for you?
Slingshot has been awesome. They make the best gear I’ve ridden, especially for wakestyle. They are local, and everyone is way chill. It’s a good family to be a part of.
Worst wipeout on a rail?
Kiting rails has been mellow, really. I’ve wracked myself on a handrail skating, and I broke my nose, wrecked my shoulder pretty good, chipped a tooth and split my forehead trying a Front Board on a triple-down-kink rail snowboarding.
How do you keep motivated afterward?
Have fun landing tricks. I’ve never lost motivation or gotten scared to hit rails.

You’ve been doing a lot of snowboarding in Utah the last couple winters. How does that influence your style?
Snowboarding has been around longer and is more progressed. I try to bring those tricks and style to kiting. There’s a lot of dope stuff going down in snowboarding that gets me so stoked. I’d like to translate that to water. I’ve been riding, snowboarding every day here in Brighton, doing a lot of rails in the city too. I’ve been working on a few things for the Technine video. We’ll see how that goes. I go to film school fall semester, too, then I spend all winter riding every day. It’s a lot of fun.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Triple S and just having fun with the homies all summer long.

What riders have the most steez today?
Andre Phillip, for sure. Pretty much all the Inept crew you don’t really get to see normally, but definitely check out the video. Anyways, that’s Ian Daly, Joby Cook, Cam Barker and a bunch of other Gorge riders just killing it.

Tell me about Hood River.
It was an awesome spot to grow up. I could always kite or snowboard or skate. It’s just a beautiful place. My dad got me into kiting when I was young. He windsurfed and crossed over and taught me. There always was a kite scene in town growing up, but it’s gotten a lot bigger every year. It’s still chill, though. There’s nothing like kiting all day, then partying at the Sandbar right after a session. That’s my favourite spot, but Rufus and the coast are always fun too.
Where do you see kiteboarding going next? What will influence you next?
Hopefully a lot more wakestyle and sliders, but a lot of people just aren’t into it. I do want to see those who ride wakestyle progressing the power and tricks, bigger rails and higher, more technical tricks. I think all the facets of kiteboading will continue to progress in their own way. That’s cool. I just want to focus on wake. That’s all I’m really interested in.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself living big. Hopefully own a house on the beach and in the mountains. But I don’t care too much as long as I can still shred and enjoy life.

Quick Answers

Where is the best place for... waves?

Salt Lake City.

Hood River, then Hatteras.

...just chillin’?
Hood River.

Triple S.


Five things you couldn’t travel without?
Money, music, skateboard, a fresh wardrobe, the right state of mind.
Top 5 on iPod?
Wu-Tang Clan, Young Jeezy, Biggie, Mac Dre, Dr. Dre.
Last two movies you watched?
CB4, Talladega Nights.
Favourite place to party in the Hood?
River City.
Drink of choice?
Rum and Coke, ginseng, green tea.
No wind—what do you do in Hood River?
Skate, head to Mt. Hood, chill, swim, jump off some cliffs.
Local music in the Hood?
Local Energy is an ill rapper.
Anyone you wanna give props to?
To everyone who’s helped me get to where I’m at. Slingshot, the Inept crew—Ian Daly, Joby Cook, Jon Ing. My family, mom and dad, and everyone else I forgot.
One word the Inept crew would use to describe you?
I believe the word would be gangsta, son!


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