The Fifth Annual Dirksen Derby drew about 300 members of the snowboard tribe to Mt. Bachelor over the weekend. Some came to defend titles, others to were there to race for the first time, but there's no doubt everyone on hand reveled in the camaraderie that's come to define this event.
Austin Smith has been to all five Derbies now and he couldn't believe how many snowboarders showed up this year.
"It's just insane to see how much it's grown in just five years," said Smith. "In the beginning it was just all of us snowboarders from around Bend and now Terje's flying in from Norway to do it. That's pretty awesome."
You know it's getting official when Terje shows up. And Terje was just one of about 150 Derby newbies to race down the course that contest namesake and innovater Josh Dirksen built. The consensus was that this year's course was the most challenging yet. Dirksen said almost a dozen volunteers labored for more than a week on it, turning out what was far and away the most well manicured Derby track to date. There were 26 beautifully built banked turns between the two tracks, and while they might've made the run tighter and more technical than ever, racers were really digging it.
"The berms were amazing," said Jake Price. "It was like the Whistler skate park -- the old one, the snake run. It was super fun. Dirksen definitely went all out."
There's no arguing that. Dirksen does it all for the Derby. He wrangles sponsors, organizes volunteers, maintains the course and even makes the trophies with his own two hands. But he clearly loves the labor involved. He's just glad to get to help his buddy Tyler Eklund out. The Dirksen Derby is a benefit for Eklund, who was paralyzed in a snowboarding accident in 2007. Every year all proceed from the event go to Eklund and this year Dirksen raised almost $18,000, which is three times more than any previous year. Dirksen says he couldn't be happier to help raise all that money, but when asked what about the biggest reward of the weekend he's quick to say it's not all about the money.
"I just love seeing the stoke on Tyler's face," says Dirksen. "Everything else is just a bonus, money included."
Kelly Underwood/Desiree Melancon
Older and Wiser