Photo Java Fernandez/ Salomon Snowboarding
Josh Dirksen needs no introduction. No seriously. It’s not even that I am being lazy and don’t feel like writing one. He is just at that status that if you don’t know who he is, well, then you must not care. So without further adieu, Josh Dirksen gets humped.
YoBeat: How old are you these days?
Josh Dirksen: 32
YB: When you got your first contract, did you think you’d be pro for so long?
JD: No, when I got my first contract I thought it would be like a year or two. It’s definitely a surprise. I’ve been a pro snowboarder for 14 years. Every year that goes by I am just surprised with how long my career has lasted and stuff, but I’m down, I’m still having fun doing it. I think I’m able to make better decisions and keep everything running smoothly.
YB: What’s your focus now?
JD: I guess my focus is pow. Getting a lot of pow, riding the best conditions the best terrain as I can. After all these years, why not just focus on what I think is the best? There’s a lot of good stuff out there to ride, but what I enjoy is getting perfect snow, perfect conditions. Lining it up at the right time and trying to be a little bit wiser.
Getting pow. Abe Blair photo.
YB: You filmed for years though, how many video parts have you made?
JD: A quick guess would be 7 or 8. One a year for many, many years. Two years ago I kind of got frustrated with it. I ended compressing my knee and filming and just trying to get a film part it was like, what’s the point of that. I figured I was just going to go crazy if I kept trying to film the same part. It definitely is stressful and in the end satisfying, but as the years goes on it’s not what I consider good times anymore. I just tried to stop that, pick a different route to go and do whatever else comes up. There are so many pro snowboarders filming and making that part every year there are definitely many opportunities. Like when you run around telling everyone, “I’ve got nothing going on I’m down for whatever” it’s like, ahh perfect, everyone else is so busy filming their film part! I’m not as focused, but it’s fun not having that focus and just being able to do what sounds more exciting. And I figure the most important part of my career is to try and stay happy and satisfied and stoked. In the end I snowboard better, which it is think what you want.
YB: Were your sponsors concerned when you stopped filming?
JD: I don’t know if they were concerned I guess, but they were wondering what my plan was going to be. They’re stoked. I’ve been with Salomon and Bonfire for so long that they are down for whatever works. I think if after a couple years if it turned out it was working very good that I’d get cut maybe, but I think they’re stoked on it.
Why wouldn’t sponsors be stoked, with sticker placement like that! Alex Nawrocky photo.
YB: It probably helped that you got the cover of Transworld this year. How did that come about?
JD: Yeah, that was well timed and lucky! These guys were doing this project where they were hiking all around Tahoe just man powered—snowshoes or split boards. We ended up doing a bunch of split board trips that year where we were hiking around and that trip we went on was kind of the grand finale. We had a group of about 11 people and we all had split boards. We hiked to the top of Whitney, which is the highest point in the lower 48, and we had a little base camp and we all kind of rallied around there. That shot just came out at the end of the first day. It’s kind of the first memorable moment of the trip because it was crazy snow and everything. It was the first moment where everything came together. The snow started to soften up and the sun came out and it was a good moment.
YB: Do you think you’ll ever film another video part?
JD: Maybe. I don’t think I’ll ever spend the whole season working to get a three-minute video part just tricks and everything. But I am sure, well not sure, but hopefully I’ll have sections in movies that could be considered video parts. I think I’m over searching for cheese wedges and jumping off and getting one trick and be like ok I got that one trick and working on getting everything! I’m just kind of snowboarding and having fun.
YB: There are so many videos out there, do you think that’s helping or hurting things?
JD: I don’t think it’s helping or hurting, I think it’s just out there. There are a lot of snowboarders out there and a lot of opinions on what’s cool, so being able to offer like every type of snowboarding and every point of view is good. It’s not hurting, but it makes it hard to be a pro snowboarder, when you’re trying to be original and everyone else is being original too.
Josh and the “new kids.” Photo: Java Fernandez/ Salomon Snowboarding
YB: Which new kids are you most psyched on watching?
JD: There are so many people. Jake Blauvelt is definitely my favorite. I just like anybody who’s doing something creative. I took a trip with the Salomon team to Japan. Riding with all those guys, Louif, Chris Grenier, Bode, and Laurent. It’s interesting to see how they look at snowboarding compared to the old classic way that I look at it. I just enjoyed it, it something different and surprising. There are a lot of kids doing stuff that’s the same and not so surprising, so it’s pretty easy to pick out the cool ones in my eyes.
YB: Speaking of creativity, tell me about one-footers.
JD: I’ve definitely done some one-footers over the years. I always thought they were a little goofy. They are kind of like a circus trick, a little bit more shock value than anything else, so I try and pick my moments. I always wanted to not become the one-foot guy. Like Ben Hinkley was the frontflip guy cause he did them at all the right times. There have definitely been some well-timed one-footers that have worked out good. I love ‘em for sure.
YB: How many one-footed backflips would you say you’ve done in your career?
JD: Um, 4? 5? Leading up to the X Games that one year and at the X Games, but that’s about it.
YB: Backflips are cool no matter how you do them.
JD: Yeah I enjoy em. Double backflips too. Watching them, not doing them. Maybe triple backflips, I’m not sure, that might be taking it too far.
Not a backflip, or a one-footer. Photo: Abe Blair
YB: So you live in Bend. Have you always lived there?
JD: I grew up in Eugene pretty much, a little bit south of there, and then when I graduated from high school I moved over to the Bend just because it was a big mountain and kind of a destination. It worked out good, all of my buddies were there and it’s kind of a nice place. It’s a little of the way as far as airports and all that. It’s hard to travel to so it’s kind of nice when you get home you can just chill out, not panic all over the place. It’s an amazing mountain, Mt. Bachelor right there. It’s all volcanic. Just go round and round try and go fast and make the most of the speed that you can get. I love it there for sure. I think if I was there every day of the year it might get a little old for me. But I get to travel and run around so when I come back it’s nice.
YB: And you have a pretty cool house there?
JD: Yeah, I ended up buying a house there ten years ago or something. When I bought it, it seemed like the expensive house. It was like 150 grand and I was like, I don’t know it might be too much and now it’s just… it’s kind of in a prime spot with a little view of hill. Houses there now, even with the financial crisis and stuff, are way more expensive, like double or triple. I definitely got lucky with it. It’s got a name, Rancho Relaxo, because it’s got a little Ranch feel to it. My buddy was sitting there back in the day and was like “Rancho Relaxo.” We’ve got a goose hanging on the wall, got all my buddies’ artwork hanging on the wall, photos I’ve collected over the years. It’s pretty sweet. Skate ramp, hot tub, It’s got all the bells and whistles.
Not at home in Bend. Photo: Java Fernandez/ Salomon Snowboarding
YB: Do you still live with Thayne (Mahler)?
JD: No he left me for a girl. Then he moved to So Cal. Then the girl broke up with him. Then he stayed there.
YB: One time he was staying at my house in Bellingham and we wanted to go out to breakfast. Someone suggested IHOP and Thayne was like, they serve breakfast there? Got any good Thayne stories?
JD: For sure. He’s a nut. He’s definitely the most energetic kid that I know. It was so amazing watching him snowboard. Thayne is our buddy who got in a snowboard accident, broke his leg and was stuck over night. The leg died and they chopped it off. He has a prosthetic and is still such a big snowboarder. We always said that it was because he had so much energy then he got his leg chopped off and needed more energy to make it work. But he rallied and now he’s working. Making money. He enjoys making money. He just bought a Beamer. He would drive around Bend in his truck, without a king cab, cause that’s not a real tuck. It had a full long bed with a piece of plywood in there and he’d drive like 5 miles per hour around town bitching about everyone driving fast. Then he goes down to So Cal and makes some money and buys a nice Beamer and drives like 90 down the freeway. He was always a shocker. I was happy to have him as a roommate when I did. He was definitely a crafty man, he helped me kind of make the house cooler. He built the skate ramp. I love him, I hope we get him back.
Wicked fast. Photo: Alex Nawrocky
YB: What’s up with the Dirksen Derby?
JD: I guess when I decided I was not filming a video part I was like, what else am I going to do? Brad from Bonfire suggested I get a contest going. These days I like going fast, so we just kind of ended up making a little rally course and just rallied down. It’s timed with stopwatches, pretty simple set up, just whoever can make it down the fastest. Then our buddy Tyler Ekland broke his neck a couple years back and got paralyzed. He still loves snowboarding so we do it for him. Last year we got him up there, checking it all out. It’s kind of fun having a focus. Whatever we do for the contest is to make Tyler stoked. It’s pretty fun, pre season, so everyone is warming up for the season. It’s a nice mellow course, I think it’s only like 25 seconds long and you just rally down. Everyone gets 3-5 runs so you just lap it really. It’s just easy. It’s definitely fun and satisfying to stoke out Tyler. He loves it. We got him in a sit ski towards the end of this year so we might try and get him out there. It’s a snowboard race, but then we have a token skier division where we get our skier buddies out there and then we have a sit ski division too. Hopefully we’ll get him in that this year.
Josh and Tyler. Photo: Alex Nawrocky
YB: It’s funny, it seems like the ski vs snowboard thing kind of went away for a couple years, but now it’s back, now that skiing is “cool.” You seem to be one of the more ski-friendly guys out there though, what’s your take on it?
JD: Well, one of my best friends, Trevor Baker, is a skier so I can’t really talk shit about it, I guess. I think it’s pretty funny. It’s just one of those all things that everyone thinks is still a big deal, but it’s all the same to me. It’s fun going out with skiers. They don’t do the same tricks, it’s fun and interesting to watch, it’s not like you are just copying each other. I like going out with skiers, but I like going out with anyone who’s stoked and having fun.
YB: What about when they grab with poles?
JD: I’m ok with that. I’m even down with no poles, whatever works. I think skiing is super sweet, they can rally and there’s amazing skiers out there. I got nothing bad to say. And I kind of like hyping it up when everyone else is like, oh skiing’s dorky!
YB: What would you say has changed the most about snowboarding since you started?
JD: The amount of money in snowboarding I guess. I guess what’s changed the most is when a little kid is growing up and is so focused on being a pro. I think when I was younger, we didn’t even know what a pro was. Now ten-year-old kids are like focused and have agents and are making tons of money and have like 20 sponsors. That’s definitely the biggest most chocking change I’ve seen. But it’s all snowboarding. Just more snowboarders and more money and more snowboarding.
photo: Java Fernandez/Salomon Snowboarding