Team Blog: Marissa’s Dirksen Derby Recap
Words: Marissa Krawczak
Photos: Angela “Halo” Wilson
Friday December 12th, 2014.
As the sky barely brightened at sunrise through the heavily overcast skies of Oregon, I made my way South from Mt. Hood towards Bend in my truck/insta-home. My plan was to make the three hour trek to Mt. Bachelor to meet up with my homies and ride for the day, as well as check out the course that had been built for the Dirksen Derby.
Unfortunately, I accidentally missed a turn and drove my truck into the forest. Completely unscathed with a totaled truck, I rented a rig and continued on to Bend. I guess it was no better time than now to escape death and go snowboarding.
Upon arrival in Bend, I was greeted by hugs and friends and good times at the Midtown Ballroom for the Derby Kickoff Party & Broken Board Art Auction. It was fun seeing creativity at play from a wide variety of artists, hearing some live music, and enjoying a quite refreshing beverage or two.
Tyler Ecklund is a man that should be mentioned here, since he is the reason we as snowboarders have gathered for the weekend. Tyler was severely injured snowboarding is paralyzed from the neck down. He has now become the sit-skier with the brightest smile, biggest stoke, and most inspirational story. All proceeds from the Dirksen Derby weekend are going to Tyler and his family, his super luxe sit-ski sled, and newly announced, to other disabled athletes through a foundation in his name.
Saturday December 13th, 2014.
The mountain called everyone out of bed early, with no regard for the lingering side effects of Friday night. The sun rose full bore and made an awesome sunny day on Mt Bachelor. The two hand dug courses for the Derby proved to be the most shapely in years yet, and despite being short in vertical feet, proved to be challenging. The Red course featured a ‘toilet-bowl’ tree well followed by some tight turns, while the Green course appeared less intimidating but still remained unassumingly technical.
I chose the Red course to ride in my heat for Open Women’s Snowboarding qualifications. I was surprised that the field was filled with 97 women, a record turnout to say the least. I was thankful to make it to the bottom of the course without falling or getting swept up over the side of the tight banked turns. It was flowy fun and I had no expectations, but ended up making the 12th and last spot to qualify for finals.
The day ended with everyone dispersing to celebrate their racing weekend or to fall into a heavy sleep with dreams in white rooms with perfect lefts and rights. Speaking of floating around—legendary surfer, Bend local, yogi and turn master himself, Gerry Lopez, spoke at Patagonia Bend for all who wished to be enlightened. Team rider Ashley Thornton attended and got some insight on mastering the turn and the link between. It is fun to be connected in that flow.
Sunday December 14th, 2014
The overnight temperatures set the courses up to be much firmer for finals day. As the rush of practice ended, the splitboarders took to the course to drop some sweat and test their agility. They had one heat of skinning up to the top, assembling their boards and taking the Red course, then skinning back up to complete the circuit with the Green course. I saw people get sucked into the icy unforgiving toilet-bowl, forcing racers behind to fall in as well. It seemed like ice-axes for self-arrest may have been appropriate for the backcountry gurus in the course. In the end, Mt Baker local and life long powder hound, Marie Debari, took the title two minutes ahead of the competition.
After the Older/Wiser and Gentlemen raced, the final 32 girls for Women’s Open dropped in, racing both courses for a combined lowest time. My goal was to finish the courses and make top 10, since it was my first event since having knee surgery in the spring. I felt nervous at every drop in, but also felt very grateful to have the opportunity to be in a beautiful place and be surrounded by such rad people. At the end of the day I finished 8th and made some dang fun turns with my friends.
For the first year ever, the Derby included a Women’s Elite category for pro-riders. Team riders Ashley Thornton and Randa Shahin were among the 16 ladies that raced. Both rode well and did Shred Betties proud. Ashley tied for 5th, proving her limitless skill set turn after turn.
The highlight of the day was Tyler Ecklund’s run through the courses. That kid is so stoked all the time! It was really inspirational to have been there with him and with everyone. We were all just having fun and making turns together, sharing the ultimate passion and just riding it out, whichever way it turned.
The weekend ended with an after party and movie premiere of Volcom’s Mr. Plant at the Velvet Bar in downtown Bend. The narrow building provided an atmosphere for all of us to cozy up, maybe find a seat on the floor, grab a mason jar cocktail, and have no excuse not to love your neighbor. Josh Dirksen, creator of the event, showed up late night, looking happily exhausted from countless hours of labor that once again brought us all together to enjoy the ride.
Women’s Elite Snowboard:
1st Desiree Melancon
2nd Colleen Quigley
3rd Stephanie Haines
Women’s Open Snowboard:
1st Byrnn Hayes
2nd Caley Vanular
3rd Devyn Schnake
1st Maria Debari
2nd Allison Lightcap
3rd Khai Bhagwandin
Posted by Gabby Rainville on 12/23/14