Kiteboarding has grown in the midwest fairly rapidly since 2000, and thankfully there have been very few injuries. Much of this can be attributed to the community’s commitment to safety, and the belief that we need to introduce new riders to the sport through qualified instruction. Not unlike driving a car, with proper instruction when learning, we all can share our lakes with minimal accidents.

LAKAWA School of Kiteboarding is headed up by a PASA Certified Instructor.

About PASA
PASA was founded March 21, 1997 as a non-profit organization (501-C(6)) by a group of hang gliding industry leaders who envisioned a member driven trade association for the air sports industry. Today, PASA is a reality incorporating industry councils from multiple sports. PASA’s organizational structure includes industry councils, which provides members with an opportunity to focus on opportunities or problems within their unique area of the industry. Councils include: Hang Gliding Industry Council, Kiteboarding Industry Council, Paragliding Industry Council, Parasailing Industry Council, Ultralight Industry Council.

Mike Kratochwill, Owner
Certified PASA Instructor Mike joined the team in the summer of 2009, and took over the reins at the start of the 2009/2010 Winter Session. He became hooked on kiting after taking a lesson with Lakawa back in the winter of 2004. Over the years he watched the sport evolve, season after season, and the number of riders increase. Lakawa is, and has been, THE community resource since kiting came to the area in the late 90’s. Mike took advantage of an opportunity to purchase Lakawa, with hopes to add his expertise to an already well-branded company.
Mike enjoys the essence of the sport; the less extreme, the less intense ride. That being said, he can’t deny the entertainment value of boosts and backrolls! He has developed a program that educates riders in a strong foundation and encourages personal growth into areas that appeal to each individual rider, whether that be big airs or solo tranquility. His PASA certification provides an authenticity to his interests in safety, delivery, and communication of this sport to our community of riders.

Tighe Belden, Founder Emeritus
Certified PASA Instructor Tighe has been riding the wind for over 25 years. First as a windsurfer and now as a kiteboarder, he is an integral part of the wind sports community in the Midwest. As founder, he has been committed to the riding community and the safe growth of these sports for over 15 years. Tighe continues to support Lakawa in an advisory role.

Jim Watkins
Instructor and Shop Rider – Gear: Cabrihna 
Jim is new to the MN Kite scene, but not to MN or Kiting. Shortly after graduating from Carleton down in Northfield, MN in 2007, he found himself teaching HS math in Miami.  Warm waters and steady winds called him to the beach, and he has been hooked ever since.  Jim moved back to Minneapolis to propose to his girlfriend of 7 years, Annie (also a recent wind addict).  Jim started teaching kitesurfing lessons by accident while in Providencia, Colombia with Annie.  He was approached by a local looking for lessons.  Jim explained that he was 1. on vacation, and 2. not even an instructor!  But the Mai (dude in spanish) was insistent.  So Jim agreed to teach him and his wife in exchange for the use of their apartment in San Andres on the way back to the US.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Strapless wave riding is Jim’s favorite style, but the beautiful flat water conditions in MN has inspired him to really push his freestyle and unhooked riding.  Jim looks forward to spreading the stoke about kiting in MN and across the midwest.

Dave Tomassen
Shop Rider – Gear: North Kites 
Dave has been taken by the sport since 2007. You will enjoy learning about North kites as much as Mountain Snowmobiling and his production skills with the hobby business of Tiny Monks. Dave’s energy is contagious and you will be glad to join into whatever he coax’s you into. His sense of adventure helped forge and aggressive board skill style of ride where if you get a chance to watch or ride with him you will enjoy watching as he persues any opportunity to carve heel or toe side off the face of a wave, back-side of it, or simply use it for a ramp.

Pete Koski
Shop Rider – Gear: Best Kites
Slingshot Kites, NPX

Robbie Kraetz
Shop Rider – Gear: Slingshot Kites

Todd Hanson
Shop Rider – Gear: Slingshot Kites 
My discovery of kiteboarding was a 20 year journey that started out with a love for competition water skiing (3 event) in 1979. Trick skiing was always my favorite event because of the creativity aspect. After winning the 1985 national championships in tricks, I focused on the other 2 events: slalom and jump. It’s now 1989 and I’ve just started wakeboarding and snowboarding AHAAAAAA……fresh new sport, new tricks, new faces. Fast forward to 1998, went to the South of France (Montpellier) to check out the Festival of international extreme sports. It was there that I saw my first kiteboarder, just some guy cruising a couple of yards from the edge of the beach,
back and forth with a little jump every now and then. I was like a child that just downed his first Redbull (16 oz’er at that). To be able to do that without a boat and more importantly a driver, was beyond comprehension. All I could think was, that is going to be part of my life for sure. As soon as I got back to the states I bought a 4m foil, took my snowboard out onto a frozen lake covered with 50/50 snow and ice, and proceeded to drag for hundreds of feet on my stomach (board attached) I felt like I was thirteen years old even thou I was 30 something at the time, priceless! That night, while watching a hockey game on TV, the idea for the Switchblade was born. A device that allows you to get traction on glare ice with a regular snowboard. A few years later I built a snow groomer for kiting which is now known as the Trailgunner. Necessity really is the mother of invention.Now days I look back on all the friendships that have developed and places I’ve traveled to chasing wind,and say to myself…….
“what a ride”

Todd (aka kiteboy)

Alfredo Lagrimita Barrera (Alex)
Shop Rider – Gear: Slingshot Kites

Lakawa School of Kiteboarding has a pool of instructors that are pulled in as needed based on class size. Selected for their passion for the sport, their knowledge of riding technique, and their commitment to safe practices, these guys are the best at getting you riding quickly and having fun.