The Dirksen Derby, for me as for many, has become more a reunion than a contest. Now in its sixteenth year, speed matters, for sure—more to some than others. But it’s the gathering at Mt. Bachelor, OR to celebrate the beginning of another season that brings me there in mid-December year after year. A chance to remind myself that yes, the community makes snowboarding special, and that sometimes, the turns are more a rallying call than an end game.
Case in point: this year started slow for much of the American West. In fact, the first day of the Derby was my first day on hill, the latest in the year I can remember first strapping in for at least a decade. Conditions were marginal—hard pack, low tide. But the sun shone and edging into early morning groomers felt good. The racecourse, in its typical two lanes at 30-ish-seconds-apiece, was well crafted, considering the dig crew had to basically chop those berms out of block ice in the shade. Big banks and some semblance of flow were more than one could ask for, but they delivered. Waiting to drop in gave good reason to stop and catch up with friends, regardless.
And the highlight was, and always will be, the people, for me. Cruiser laps with the Raney family, Tom Burt, Johan Malkoski, and Nick Russell. Trying to follow Yoder’s line down the simplest of beginner slopes. Just cruising. Snowboarding, simplified, with a heavy dose of nostalgia. The best kind of nostalgia, which gives us energy to go create more memories, together. Current nostalgia, if you will.
Feeling that nostalgia, I brought a couple old cameras to the event this year. What follows is a photo essay—something personal from Dirksen Derby 16. Thank you Josh, thank you diggers, thank you Mt. Bachelor, thank you snowboarding. How lucky are we to have reason to share time in the mountains?
The diggers did an admirable job with the course. It only got better as the weekend progressed, even though a few rocks were showing by the end.
Check that hand drag. The Dirksen Derby raises money for numerous nonprofits including Oregon Adaptive Sports, and the sit-skiers are always my favorite to watch. Gabe Rousseau shows us how it’s done.
Not sure who the rider is here, but it sure shows how tight the red course was once again. The stacked corners had a nice rhythm and flow.
An entertaining chairlift with Nick Russell, Johan Malkoski and Tom Burt, about the time we called two more, skip the last.
Marie-France Roy en-route to another victory in Elite Womens.
Marie-France Roy, game face(s).
Jared Elston, hand jive.
Don’t ask what the Mindnich brothers are using for wax. They landed in first (Nils) and second (Hans) respectively for Elite Mens. Their dad, Karl, was third in the Yogi Men category.
Madrona Raney and a sliver of sun. It’s been amazing watching her go from racing in the youth division to a full blown ripper in the Womens Elite category.
Madrona’s dad, Devon Raney, cruising the same corner in the Adaptive category. Riding with the Raneys is always a priority at the Derby.
It’s nice to see a smile on Josh Dirksen’s face as he pulls off another successful Derby in challenging low-tide conditions. We appreciate your efforts immensely, Josh.
The Derby began as a fundraiser for Tyler Eklund, who was seriously injured snowboarding as a teenager. Here, Tyler gets his annual lap on a freshly raked course while the crowd cheers him on.
Fast folks, from left to right: Anna Soens, Marcel Dolak, Hans Mindnich.
Parking lot raven, cruising for snacks at the end of the day.
The ever-stylish Alex Yoder.
Board meets snow.
Sunset over the volcanic high desert of central Oregon.