Dean Mikulla Rider of the Month March 2015


Dean Mikulla , a native of Pittsburgh Pa, started kiteboarding in 2002 on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore, Md.  After moving to Maryland for work and family. ” There were only 2 or 3 of us on the entire Chesapeake back then trying to learn on two line Wipika’s !” he describes. “Unlike today, there was much pain involved with learning to kite. No de-power, difficult relaunching, and early technology didn’t help the learning process either ! ”

 Dean survived the learning curve and after a few years kiting around the Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore, he started getting visions of snow kiting.
  He grew up in the cold winters of Western Pennsylvania skiing and snowboarding the slopes of Seven Springs Resort just east of Pittsburgh . He tells the story of his his first attempt at snow kiting , ” There was a small runway on top of the mountain at Seven Springs and I knew it would be possible to snow kite up there! Finally one day I went up to the runway when it was blowing around 30knts , and threw up my 3 meter trainer kite. The wind speed was more like 15 to 40 and the runway was total ice ! It was an adventure to say the least ! That was around 2006″
   Early in Dean’s snowboarding days he was taking yearly trips to Utah to ride the resorts in the Wasatch Mountains. ” I think it was around 2007 when I was on the lift at Powder Mountain near Ogden , Utah and saw a kite up . The people I was with had no idea the excitement and eagerness that was pumping through my veins ! The following season I brought a 10 meter tube kite and had my first real snowkiting session at Skyline , Utah. I had snow kited once or twice since that crazy day on the runway at Seven Springs in a farm field, but never at a place like this ! ”

 Since then Dean has continued to explore Utah’s snow kiting spots, and is now a regular with the Jackson Hole Kiters. ” I spent  3 or 4 years going to Utah to snow kite on my yearly trips out west before I started hearing about the snow kiting possibilities in Wyoming and Idaho. I met William Taggart and Wayne Phillips of the Jackson Hole Kiters crew online somehow, and they invited me to their stomping grounds for some fun ! ” Jackson Hole Kiters is a snow kiting / videographer /photographer team who’s videos and images can be seen in most of the kiting mags and Ozone and Patagonia catalogs . ” Those guys are doing some amazing things up there !

They routinely scour the maps in search of new places to snow kite. This year they took me to an amazing place to snow kite that involved an hour and a half skin to 10,000′ and then we pumped up and kited across a mile long plateau to this giant bowl with a 1200′ vertical cliff ! Sounds crazy but it was very doable.”  Look for the latest movie by the Jackson Hole Kiters crew documenting their month long snow kiting exploration in Alaska being filmed this March ( 2015 ).
When Dean is not traveling out west he can now be found on the shores of eastern Maryland kiting waves from Delaware to the Carolina’s. ” I used to ride a twin tip and do all of the wake style stuff, but now that I’m almost 50 , I prefer the ease of a strapless surfboard. Its all about riding waves for me now. I’ve been surfing for 20 years, and with a kite, wave riding possibilities are endless. Most days are not perfect waves with light off shores. But with a kite, you can turn a crappy day of surfing into an epic day of slashing waves !! ”

Dean also takes a yearly trip to Puerto Rico to surf and kite the waves on the north shore of the Island. ” Ive been going to Puerto Rico during the winter for sometime now. The place is world class for surfing and kite surfing. And if there is no wind or waves, which is rare, there’s so many other things to do like snorkeling or exploring the jungle.”

Incidentally , Dean is a video / Final Cut Pro hobbyist and has made many videos documenting all of his adventures through the years. There are some interesting movies of kiteboarding back in the day, as well as some cool “kite Kam” POV movies. His videos can be seen here,  , and here


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