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Monday, December 17, 2012
Updated: December 20, 2:50 PM ET
Sixth Annual Dirksen Derby

By Liam Gallagher

Josh Dirksen: dropping, stoked. This is the essence of the Derby, right here.

It's nuking. The snow is coming down sideways and the wind is blowing a solid 20 mph, with gusts up to 40. The National Weather Service keeps blowing up everyone's cell phones with blizzard warnings. Yet the masses are huddled, hoods up, heads down, race faces on. There are hundreds of them, and everyone's ready to rally.

Josh Dirksen is standing on a stump, shouting into the wind, welcoming everyone to the 6th Annual Dirksen Derby. He's giving the general run down, some guidelines, and a little advice:

Go fast, take chances.

"We had 500 bibs to give out and they're all gone," he says. "It's the biggest turnout yet and I just want to thank all you for coming out."

The crowd erupts in applause. Everyone's stoked. It's hard not to be. The tribe is gathered: Young, old, pro, am -- all are welcome at the Derby, and for six years now the number of attendees at the annual banked slalom race has steadily grown. Attend one and you'll be get it, and then you'll be back year after year. It's that kind of event; the official un-official kick-off to winter. What's more, it's for a good cause, as all the entry fees and sponsorship dollars raised go to help Bachelor local Tyler Eklund, who was paralyzed in a snowboarding accident years ago. This year the event raised more than 30,000 dollars, more than doubling the amount raised last year.

"And I'd say we also raised a tremendous amount of stoke," adds Dirksen.

Stoke has always been the number one priority for Dirksen. Ask him what his highlight from the weekend was and he'll say, every time, every year: "Seeing the smile on Tyler's face." That's why he does the Derby.

Mt. Bachelor local Austin Smith took top honors in the Men's Elite category.

This isn't to say, of course, that there isn't some serious competitive snowboarding going on too. It is still a race, after all -- a race on one of the craziest little rally tracks this side of the divide. With six years of course building under his belt now, Dirksen continues to improve the Derby track.

This year he luckily had a lot of help from Mother Nature and there was plenty of snow for the army of volunteers to work with. Famed park builder Pat Malendoski also lent his expertise to the course and Dirksen says it was Pat who made this year's course "sparkle."

Sparkle it did. Or, at least it did when the wind wasn't blowing gale force ... which was most of the day. But, as nasty as the weather was, it never seemed to dampen any spirits. With all the new snow, everyone in attendance, the coolest course anyone's ever ridden and all of it coming together for a good cause, how could it?

Final Results: Top three finishers and their two-run combined times

Men Elite
1. Austin Smith 01:06.46
2. Curtis Ciszek 01:06.59
3. Scotty Wittlake 01:06.61

1. Ben Connors 01:06.16
2. Harry Kearny 01:06.49
3. Max Warbington 01:06.94

1. Maria Debari 01:10.61
2. Marie France Roy 01:11.61
3. Desiree Melanchon 01:11.66

1. Taylor Mattingley 01:14.12
2. Will Calder 01:17.73
3. Zoe Kern 01:18.99

Older and Wiser
1. Gerry Lopez 01:20.06
2. Michael Schubert 01:25.95
3. Reuben Valdivia 01:28.14

Sit Ski
1. Ravi Drugan 01:25.74
2. Gabe Rousseau 01:46.40
3. Tyler Eklund 01:07.55

1. Ralph Backstrom
2. Forrest Burki
3. Justin Bender