With the return of winter comes the return of racing. Racing to the pow stash, racing your friends to the bar, racing to get out of bed early enough to get a good parking spot. Our favorite form of racing comes in the shape of the classic snowboarding banked slalom and the west coast has a plethora of races to attend and enjoy from Mammoth to the Legendary Mt. Baker in Washington State.
We’ve professed our love for Bend many times. It’s an incredible town with amazing access to some beautiful terrain at and around Mt. Bachelor. Since we needed no excuse we proceeded to pack up and drive south to the 12th Annual Dirksen Derby this year.
What’s a slalom? A slalom race in skiing is defined as a winding course where the turns are marked by flags or gates. What’s a banked slalom? Literally the same thing, but better. Add one key ingredient: BANKS. Transition is fun, so ipso facto banked slaloms are fun. Every mountain does them a little different, Dirksen Derby for example emphasizes flow and control on a course that’s tight and slow whereas The Legendary Banked slalom at Mt. Baker is designed to kill you at high speeds with whopping huge banked turns.
The mission behind the Dirksen Derby, founded by pro Josh Dirksen, is to raise money annually for select non profits and benefit Bend local Tyler Eklund, who back in 2007 was finishing a practice run at Northstar for an upcoming competition when he was injured and paralyzed from the neck down. The Dirksen Derby is an annual effort to support Tyler, his ongoing recovery and rally the snowboarding and sit skiing community around a fun filled and memorable weekend.
Dirksen Derby and other similar events are fun as a spectator, a rush for racers, and an all around awesome experience for snowboarding communities across the map. There’s always a banked slalom happening and if you haven't you should prioritize checking one out, or even signing up for a race at your local hill should the opportunity present itself.