Finding Momentum at the Seventh Annual Dirksen Derby

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Momentum. If I could sum up the Dirksen Derby in one word, it would be momentum. Momentum in the sense that this year, it grew again, prompting the organizers to cap the entries at 500 racers, by far the most in the history of the event. Also in the sense that the race course (and its home of Mt Bachelor, OR, for that matter) requires special attention to momentum.

With a somewhat sparse snow year so far in the Pacific Northwest, the 2013 rendition of the Dirksen Derby moved back to the main base area and the West Village Lodge, but the character of the course didn’t change much: a green lane and a red lane, with the green offering a little more flow, and the red sporting tall, tight banks, a mid-course double jump and an uphill finish.

Back to momentum: those with the ability to generate momentum were able to have the best times through the thirty-plus-second course, and probably the best time riding it, too. Those with a bobble in their search for momentum failed to qualify, and found themselves hopping through turns and pumping for speed where there wasn’t much on tap. They might even have had trouble making the landing on that little sender through the trees on the way to the course.

And this is why Mt Bachelor is the perfect venue for an early-season contest: the place is really, really fun, regardless of snow levels. Volcanic windlips and gulleys form into snaking hit runs, providing plenty of room for 500 traveling snowboarders to spread out and find a line. While the focus of mainstream competitive snowboarding was at the Dew Tour in Colorado this weekend (Olympic qualifiers!), the soul of snowboarding was on display at Bachelor. Whether working the side hits down to the course or firing through towering evergreens with a half-dozen friends in close proximity, all anyone could talk about was how much fun they were having. And that’s what snowboarding should be after all—fun. Simple, really.

To the race: Palmer showed up. So did Chris Roach, Jake Blauvelt, Scott E Wittlake, and hundreds of other riders more interested in soul turns than the spotlight. And of course, Tyler Eklund was there. So were Gerry and Alex Lopez. Temple and Cannon Cummins. Devon and Madrona Raney. A snowboard family bound by bloodlines and tree lines, berms and beers at the lodge.

Qualifiers happened Saturday, and then the elite men took the course Sunday along with the lucky 25 percent who held enough momentum to make it through. In the end, Harry Kearney topped the podium for the derby elite men, followed closely by Lucas Debari and Curtis Ciszek. For the ladies, Marie France Roy, Colleen Quigley and Desiree Melancon held down the top three spots. A local on the rise, Nils Mindnich, won the unofficial style award, contorting his body into mind-bending positions and posting the fastest time for the non-derby-elite men. But the biggest cheer of the day, as always, was for Tyler Eklund, for whom the event is held. So Thanks Tyler, for gathering the tribe. And thanks to Josh Dirksen, all the diggers, Mt Bachelor, and everyone with whom I shared a lap or two this weekend.

Here’s to another season in the mountains—in full swing and gaining momentum by the day.

Dirksen Derby 2013 from Funny Feelings on Vimeo.


Derby Elite

  1. Harry Kearney, 62.90
  2. Lucas Debari, 64.23
  3. Curtis Ciszek, 64.36


  1. Marie-France Roy, 68.95
  2. Colleen Quigley, 72.26
  3. Desiree Melancon, 73.09


  1. Nils Mindnich, 64.37
  2. Kyle Miller, 66.45
  3. Logan Beaulieu, 66.75


  1. Sylvain Duclos, 66.88
  2. Jason McAlister, 67.88
  3. Ami Voutilainen, 68.34

Older & Wiser

  1. Ruben Valdivia, 89.44
  2. John Devenere, 90.48
  3. Gerry Lopez, 91.63


  1. Sean Fitzsimmons, 76.70
  2. Wyatt Foley, 78.54
  3. Noah Brown, 79.79

Sit Ski

  1. Gabe Rousseau, 95.55
  2. Ravi Drugan, 97.64
  3. Hiromi Tatsumi, 114.19

Men’s Splitboard

  1. Gabe Cliafre
  2. Adam Haynes
  3. Forrest Burki

Women’s Splitboard

  1. Amy Wadley
  2. Angela Wilson
  3. Marie-France Roy

For full results, click here.


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