In 2007, Tyler Eklund was a dedicated up-and-coming snowboarder from Oregon, competing for the first time at the USASA Nationals at the age of 14. During a slopestyle run he caught his edge, landed on his neck and broke his C-3 vertebrae. The injury paralyzed him from the neck down. He had no health insurance.
Eklund was determined to continue riding mountains. And with help from friends, family and skilled volunteers from Oregon Adaptive Sports, he continues to do just that -- though now he's dropping in on a sit-ski.
Patagonia rider Josh Dirksen has been hosting the Dirksen Derby as a benefit and fundraiser for Eklund for five years, and the money raised from the Derby has helped Eklund stay on the snow around Bachelor. This year's event raised $18,000, and Dirksen also recruited Ryland Bell, Forrest Shearer and Adam Haynes to help pull Eklund up the hill during the splitboard division qualifying part of the race. It was something to see: Tyler Eklund right there in the pack, grinning from ear-to-ear, with everyone cheering each other on, all the way up the hill.
It was just one inspirational moment from a weekend full of them, at an event made to honor an inspirational guy. See for yourself in this Face Time with Tyler Eklund.