The 9th annual Dirksen Derby is poised for primo conditions this weekend as the biggest storm of the season sets its sights on Mt. Bachelor. With 14 inches of snow having already fallen and another 2 feet in the forecast over the weekend, the season’s inaugural banked slalom kickoff is going to be one hell of a party!
As far as snowboard competitions go, the banked slalom is somewhat of a throwback to the early days of snowboard racing and has been growing in popularity over recent seasons as riders realize there is no better way to test actual snowboard proficiency than to see who can make it down the frigid course in the shortest time.
The Dirksen Derby is, in large part, responsible for leading the charge in the banked slalom genre. These types of races have risen to become elite-level events that reward riders for their ability to handle their snowboard through a fast and frozen course rather than being judged on their gymnastic ability. Banked slaloms, and in particular the Dirksen Derby, are a celebration of board control and the ability to hold an edge, something that has been lost even at the highest levels of snowboarding where contorting a board off of park features can often be confused with actually being able to ride.
Bend, Ore. local and world renown professional snowboarder Josh Dirksen started the Derby in 2007 as a philanthropic venture raising money for Tyler Eland, who was paralyzed after a snowboard accident during the practice rounds of the National Championships the previous season. Always occurring in mid December, the event has became an institution and is now the unofficial kickoff to the snowboard season, with stickered-up cars from all over the Mountain West lining the Mount Bachelor parking lot.
This year, in addition to the race, the Salomon Film Festival will showcase snowboard films and photos from prestigious snowboard lensmen like Tanner Pendelton (Crazy Loco), Jake Price (Wandering Winterland, 9191) and Pierre Wikberg (Afterbang, Lame, Afterlame), along with local Bend photographer Pete Alport. The festival will serve as a welcomed compliment to the Derby, adding a strong cultural element to the weekend while showcasing some of the world’s best riders.
Mt. Bachelor has, up until now, had a mild start to winter with a solid but thin base that was pelted earlier this week with copious amounts of rain. But now, Mother Nature is cooperating, with a series of fronts expected to unleash the snow just in time for this weekend’s event with a potential for more than three feet. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Salomon Film Festival is on Saturday, December 12th in Bend’s Wille Hall.