The 2011 Dirksen Derby a huge success at Mt. Bachelor
After one long year of anticipation, we finally arrived at what many of us hold dear to our hearts. It's simply one of the best weekends of the year – a weekend in which we come together, celebrate life, and give back while doing what we all love to do. There are overwhelmingly large numbers of reasons why The Dirksen Derby has turned into one of most humbling experiences in snowboarding. There's this one main reason why we all come together in the first place (Tyler Eklund), then there are all these little beautiful extras that come with it.
Words & photos: Alex Nawrocky
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Hypothetically speaking, let's say you happened to be in a snowboard accident that has greatly impacted your life. There is this snowboard event organized in your honor by, well, let's get real here, organized by a true legend. So, we have this contest, we have this legend, then we have this experience. If some guys named Haakon, Gerry, and Blauvelt decided to show up to an event in your honor, would that possibly make your day/year/life after growing up immersed in snowboarding? These are the things that could seem mediocre for some, but changes lives for others.
The fact that every year the Derby takes place, attracts more people, raises more money, and stokes more people out then before, it's a clear indication of what an amazing weekend this little NW event at Mt. Bachelor has become. The first annual Dirksen Derby raised around $1,000 for Tyler. This year we're at a mellow $18,000. It's astonishing to grasp how far we've come. It's about the little things in life and the culmination of all those little things at the Dirksen Derby which has equated to what some may claim (me for one) is the "best weekend ever."
From the beginning we have people taking time out of their hectic lives to do their part in making this such a success. Guys like Pat Malendoski and Jason McCallister are up at mountain a week prior. Digging for days, shaping berms, and achieving stoke. Adam Haynes and Dirksen are working hours into the night spray paining the one of a kind trophy gloves. Fabienne and momma Dirksen are organizing, stacking stickers, and packing prize packages. Local artists are working tirelessly into the night finishing their snowboard auction masterpieces. Scotty Connerly is cruising around making sure everyone is warm and cozy with new DaKine gloves. Hometown heroes Austin Smith, Curtis Ciszek and Jake Price are slaving over a wax iron, setting up splitboards, and making bets for fastest times of the weekend. Cory and Tristan – killing it on all aspects, shuttling gear up to the course on the regular, on the walkie talkies making sure things are smooth, times are right, riders are clear. Jeffe is doctoring up his famous clam chowder with his secret ingredients keeping everyone warm and satisfied. Pete Alport is logging 1,000's of clips making sure we can relive the weekend for years to come. These are just a few of the reasons why this has turned into the "best weekend ever." It may just be my opinion, but all I see are smiles for 72 hours straight.
As Saturday commenced, we had around 300 competitors registered for the Derby. Little groms to uncle John from Montana, Terje Haakonsen to Mike from Eugene who picked up a snowboard last year at a thrift shop. The diversity of the event keeps it fresh and appealing to all. There's no pressure, no stress, nothing but pure happiness. I'll be halfway down the course and hear an uproar of cheers and screams hyping Curtis up for his run. Every little piece means something special at this event. That obviously got his blood flowing enough for him to send it flawlessly down the course for another hometown hero win in the Elite division.
The splitboard race at the Derby always seems to get the crowd going. Other than the classic assasins Ryland Bell and Adam Haynes, the field is fairly open and if I may say so myself, pretty loose. The purpose of the splitboard is not about racing, it's basically about accessing terrain that would be difficult to do on a snowmobile or snow shoes. Factor in that race aspect and speed to the equation and you have a hilarious mayhem of racers charging up the hill sweating, shedding layers, and struggling to, at the least, stay in the tail wind of those usual suspects. This year Dirksen decided Tyler should experience the splitboard race himself. Josh and friends hooked Tyler and his sit ski up to a rope linked with 4-5 splitboarders. They all hiked the coarse with Tyler in tow with Dirksen pushing from behind. These kinds of moments right there make it all worth the while for not only Tyler, but everyone involved in the Derby.
As hard as it is to really grasp all the amazing experiences from the weekend, there is one that tied in quite perfectly. The premiere of Aaron Robinson's Manifest. We lost a loved one in Chile this past summer and what better time to celebrate his life and premiere his dream than Derby weekend. It was an emotional night for most but we had the comfort of spending the time together with many of the people who played such a huge role in his life. The movie was dynamic, a beautiful vision through the eyes of Sam Tour. It showed true snowboarding, not faceted with any bells and whistles. Aaron's style and personality is timeless. A humble man who has an overwhelming infatuation with riding a plank of wood. Bindings or not. Pow or groomers. It truly doesn't matter what the hell is going on one specific day with Aaron, as long as he's doing what he loves. Doing what he loves, staying true to himself and spreading love and passion throughout his riding. The difference when it comes to Aaron is that his fans were not just the kids, but his peers, friends, elders, and legends. The people that truly respect our sport, and have been around the block and back that recognize something special when it comes along. That something special will be around forever throughout every journey we take, never forgotten. This is someone that has impacted so many lives in such a short time and it's only fair we celebrate his life forever and ride the deepest pow in the world for him. It only makes sense.
Berm slash | Photo: Alex Nawrocky
The news is out, we sent it to the moon and back this weekend at Mt. Bachelor. The Dirksen Derby will live on, re-occuring thoughts of joy in our minds. The humble aura and stoke of Josh Dirksen will help us through down days, and the satisfaction we all felt seeing Tyler Eklund on cloud nine will once again make us realize how great life can truly be.
A shout out goes to Desiree Melancon who actually tied for 3rd in the women's division. She somehow got lost in translation and never got the recognition she deserved at the awards ceremony. I'm extremely surprised that Spencer Schubert doesn't have anything to do with this mix-up, but I think we're all over hearing about their stunning physical and emotional similarities. Much love Des.
Until next year, when we get that anticipated email from the offices of Rancho Relaxo, keep the dream alive and SMASH LIFE.