By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
July 26, 2006
Two local windsurfers and a kiteboarder have earned sponsorships by apparel company Girls4Sport. Windsurfers Zoe Najim and Christine Parker and kiteboarder Laura Maher will all be receiving a clothing allowance from the company.
“The three of them are role models for women who are looking to break into windsurfing or kiteboarding,” Girls4Sport spokeswoman Ranee Ruble said.
Maher is one of the pioneers of kiteboarding, and also is the first snowkiter in the country, having practiced the sport on the frozen lakes of her native Minnesota.
“Laura is certainly a pioneer of kiteboarding,” Ruble said. “She wants to share her passion and to get others hooked.”
Maher sees kiteboarding a sport with huge potential that can still be developed.
“It is evolving as we speak,” she said. “I would like to do more international camps with more travel.”
Maher is also interested in bridging the gap between women in windsurfing and kiteboarding to help both sports grow.
Najim splits time between Hood River and Breckinridge, Colo., and is considered “one of the most daring windsurfers out there” according to Ruble. Last year she learned a forward loop and is currently working to perfect it.
Parker manages the Gorge Surf shop and first took up windsurfing while she was in college at Johns Hopkins University. In addition to windsurfing and managing the surf shop, she also works as a freelance writer and has published two novels.
“(Christine) is an up and coming windsurfer,” Ruble said. “The encouragement she provides for the sport is key.”
As part of the Girls4Sport team the three will wear official Girls4Sport products and help to further develop the sports of windsurfing and kiteboarding through clinics sponsored by the company.
Maher will be helping out at two upcoming clinics, one in Hood River at 5 p.m. on July 26 at Hood River marina, and another at Fort Stevens State Park on Aug. 19.
From the clinics, which Maher said are “geared for the true beginner,” she hopes to further grow the sport of kiteboarding and help more women learn about the sport.
“My goal is to filter the women into kiteboarding schools,” Maher said.
The upcoming clinics are part of Girls4Sport charity foundation that encourages women to lead active, confident lives, something that Ruble believes their newly sponsored athletes provide.
“We sponsor them because of their commitment to growing the sport and sharing it with other women,” she said.