The Third Annual Dirksen Derby

December 15, 2009 (Bend, OR) – Central Oregon may seem worlds away from the lush evergreens west of the crest. Tumbleweeds blow across the highway and full-sized Dodge trucks pulling overloaded hay trailers roam the streets. But the town of Bend, situated just thirty minutes from Mount Bachelor, is home to a pocket of shred-heads living amongst the high and dry ranchlands. And it is also home for Josh Dirksen, who played host for the Third Annual Dirksen Derby over the weekend.


In case you haven’t heard of the Dirksen Derby, here’s the idea: each year, once there’s enough snow, Dirksen throws together a quick race along with friends in order to raise money for Tyler Eklund, a local rider who was injured three years ago. The focus is on fun times with friends more than competition–and rallying a banked course to see who’s the fastest. Usually around sixty people show up. This year was different.

Travis Parker

After slaving all week under cold and dry conditions, a bit of snow arrived Saturday just in time to make the course a little more forgiving. A thirty-second banked slalom winding through the trees, it wasn’t a huge run, but packed in eight or so, quick, high banks, a double jump, and a kicker at the end if you wanted to tweak a bit. And apparently, this year, word got out about the Derby—hundreds of competitors showed and they had to cap entry at 160 (well the official tally was 174, but that included skiers, sit-skiers and more).


The lineup to get on course was at least an hour long by the time I arrived and the volunteers serving up free clam chowder and hot chocolate were working double time as competitors congregated around a fire pit under chilly skies. At high noon, a crew of splitboarders engaged in an asian-america-up-and-downhill, the first time it had been included in the event, came peeling through, eliciting cheers and some welcome commotion in the queue.


Although everyone was supposed to get two runs, by 1:30 it was apparent we would be lucky to get one as a few other racers and I rallied the bunny hill while keeping an eye on the slowly dissipating line. Indeed, the event almost seemed to have outgrown its humble beginnings, and no one was more aware of it than Dirksen himself—looks like it might be a two-day extravaganza next season.

In the end, everyone got their turn through the berms with time to spare and the course was opened to rally for an hour or two before the awards—I’m not really sure what my time was, but it definitely wasn’t enough for the podium. And while there were a lot of quick times in various categories from veterans to sitskiers, including one lucky lady–Ashley Thorton–who earned a golden boot and an entry in the Legendary Mount Baker Banked Slalom, the win that really counted was first place in the quad sitski division: Tyler Eklund, for whom the Derby also raised over $5,000. A successful event indeed. Thanks to Josh Dirksen, all of his volunteers (especially the chowder people for extra hot sauce) and Alex Kaufman and his crew at Bachelor for making it happen and keeping everyone smiling all day.

Main Photo: Jon Tapper


Womens Snowboard – Shelly Ciszek

Men’s Snowboard – Curtis Ciszek

Older and Wiser – Max Warbington

Groms – Gabe Fergusson

Sit-Ski – Ravi Drngan

Quad Sit-Ski – Tyler Eklund

Token Skiers – Eric Pollard

Splitboard – Adam Haynes


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