When Josh Dirksen first started the Dirksen Derby, it wasn't intended to be a world-class event; it really was just meant to be a low-key community gathering, something to raise some funds for Tyler Eklund, who sustained a spinal chord injury while snowboarding.
But over the past eight years, the two-day event has boomed—attracting top riders from around the world, and growing into a seminal early-season race and a party, and even an art auction, with snowboards styled and painted by local artists for auction.
Yet, throughout that growth, the tone hasn't changed; it is still down-to-earth and compassionate, without all the pomp and loud circumstance of many snowboard races. Which is probably why the Dirksen Derby is so popular.
At last year's event, like every year, Eklund was assisted in a run down the mountain. Snowboarders and spectators lined the course and for five minutes gave him thunderous applause.
This year, more than 500 racers, including elite racers and sit-ski participants, will take to Mt. Bachelor. The hand-packed race course corkscrews through pine trees with tight banks, opens up over a series of jumps, and finishes with an open sprint to the end.
"It is pretty special to see [Eklund] take his run," says Sterling Cobb, events and sponsorship manager for Mt. Bachelor. "This is the eighth season of the Derby, and it has gained a pretty amazing following in the industry, and beyond. It has grown from a fun, grassroots event and just picked up steam."
He goes on to say, "It is hard to explain in a word what the community presence is like. It is just a great event to be a part of."
8th Annual Dirksen Derby
Friday, Dec. 12: 10 am-1 pm, Derby Elites Qualifier, Mt Bachelor;
6 pm, Dirksen Derby Kickoff Party & Broken Board Art Auction, Midtown Ballroom
Saturday, Dec. 13: 10 am-2 pm, Amateur Divisions Qualifier,
Splitboard divisions Final, Mt. Bachelor
Sunday, Dec. 14: 10 am-4 pm, Amateur Divisions Final, Derby Elites Final, Sit-Ski division Final, Mt. Bachelor