Natural Selection Tour Duel – Ben Ferguson vs Nils Mindnich – Whistler, BC, Canada, January 2023.
© Colin Adair/Red Bull Content Pool

Natural Selection Tour returns for 2023 with new Duels format

From new formats and venues, to a new heavy-hitting group of riders, discover how the 2023 Natural Selection Tour is taking snowboarding to a whole new level.
By Alastair Spriggs with edits from Red Bull Canada staff
6 min readUpdated on

7 min

Mark McMorris vs Mikey Ciccarelli

Tour rookie Mikey and Burton team-mate and NST veteran Mark bring slopestyle tricks to a high-octane match-up.


What happens when you take a handpicked roster of the world’s best snowboarders – from champions to backcountry film icons – for head-to-head competition on some of the world’s most dynamic and challenging natural iconic, powder-filled terrain? Well, you give way to the most-anticipated and exciting snowboard contest ever created.
Natural Selection Tour 2023, in its third season, is set to make history yet again with the introduction of Duels as the Tour’s first stage.
Duels feature 24 riders including 12 defending riders, qualified by their performance on the Tour in 2022 or by backcountry seniority, matched up against 12 challenging riders in a location of their choice. Highlights from the session will be captured and released here, and judged with emphasis being placed on new terrain, rider personality, and overall skill. The winner from each Duel will move on to compete in Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada, and Valdez, Alaska.
Watch the Natural Selection Tour Duels exclusively on between February 19 to March 2nd—videos will be released daily on the Duels event page. Or, continue scrolling to learn about the new Duels format, and get up to speed on the history and hype surrounding Travis Rice’s revolutionary snowboard competition.
Mark McMorris walks in the backountry where athletes compete at the Natural Selection Tour Stop 3 at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge in June Lake, Alaska, USA on March 22, 2021.

Mark McMorris at the Natural Selection Tour in Alaska, 2021

© Dean Blotto Gray / Natural Selection Tour / Red Bull Content Pool


The history

The basis of Natural Selection Tour dates back to 2008, when Travis Rice invited a group of professional snowboarders to join him at his home mountain in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA. The goal was to create a contest that traded manicured takeoffs and spin-to-win judging for natural raw terrain and creative expression. The core concept returned to the mainstream in 2012 with Red Bull Super Natural and again at the 2013 Red Bull Ultra Natural.
Then, nearly a decade later, Rice’s innovative dream contest returned for good. Natural Selection Tour 2021 and 2022 concreted the three-staged contest series into snowboard culture, where the sport’s top athletes faced off in a head-to-head format, creating an arena for unlikely match-ups and mind-blowing riding.
Relive the all the action from last year's grand finale in the player below.

Yeti Natural Selection Alaska

Deep in the Alaskan backcountry, 12 snowboarders set up at a glacial basecamp for head-to-head competition.


The format

At Stage 1, 12 challenging riders will compete against defending riders from years prior. Each pairing will travel to a backcountry location selected by the defending rider, and the two will go head-to-head. Highlights from the session will be captured and released here, then judged with emphasis being placed on new terrain, rider personality and lifestyle, and overall skill. The winner will move on to the next round, the YETI Natural Selection Revelstoke in Canada. Fans will also have to chance to vote for their favourite male and female Duel starting on March 3rd.
At Stage 2 and Stage 3, the eight qualified men from the previous phase will complete two quarter-final runs, where the best run counts. Then the top four riders will compete in head-to-head semi-finals, and the top two in the final. The four qualified women will complete two semi-final runs, and the top two scoring riders will head to the final.
Similar to 2022, Natural Selection Tour will be implementing a Triple Crown-style format to crown an overall tour champion. Points will be tallied at the end of each phase, where first place receives one point, second receives two points, and so on. Each phase carries equal weight and the rider with the lowest score at the end of the tour will be named overall Natural Selection Tour champion.

The riders

So far, Natural Selection Nomination Committee has picked 24 of the game's trendiest, most legendary snowboarders to compete for the 2023 all-mountain title. Each rider comes equipped with a wealth of experience in their respective field and a unique approach to backcountry snowboarding that could earn them the top spot.
Robin Van Gyn and Elena Hight during day two finals at Natural Selection Tour stop one in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA on 28 January, 2022.

Elena Hight and Robin Van Gyn celebrating the finals

© Dean Blotto Gray/Natural Selection Tour/Red Bull Content Pool

In 2023, riders are split into two categories: defenders and challengers. The defenders are made up of the most successful free riders from previous Natural Selection competitions. This includes reigning champions Travis Rice and Elena Hight, emerging backcountry phenoms Jared Elston and Mark McMorris, as well as seasoned veterans like Torstein Horgmo and Kimmy Fasani. But these favourites will have to overcome a heavy-hitting group challengers in order to standout this season – with the likes of Red Gerard, John Jackson, and Darrah Reid-McLean joining the mix.
Here’s the full list of confirmed riders:
Women: Kimmy Fasani (USA), Darrah Reid-McLean (Canada), Elena Hight (USA), Leanne Pelosi (CAN), Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (New Zealand), Enni Rukajarvi (Finland), Marissa Krawczak (USA) and Hayley Langland (USA).
Men: Mikkel Bang (Norway), Ben Ferguson (USA), Blake Paul (USA), Dustin Craven (Canada), Jared Elston (USA), Torstein Horgmo (Norway), Mark McMorris (Canada), John Jackson (USA), Gigi Ruf (Austria), Nils Mindnich (USA), Red Gerard (USA), Mikey Ciccarelli (Canada), Ulrik Badertscher (Norway), Werni Stock (Austria) and Brock Crouch (USA).

The Stages

Stage 1: Defender's choice
Twenty-two snowboarders (16 men and six women) will battle it out at undisclosed locations across North America in the new Duels format. Defending riders from years prior have the advantage of choosing the location and terrain of the session – adding an element of surprise to the competition.
Ben Ferguson shredding at the 2022 Natural Selection Tour.

Ben Ferguson Natural Selection Tour

© Tim Zimmerman/Natural Selection Tour/Red Bull Content Pool

Unfortunately, McMorris injured his ankle and will be out for the next while. His close friend Mike Ciccarelli will be taking his place on the Natural Selection Tour.
Stage 2: Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada
The top 12 riders (eight men and four women) from Stage 1 will be invited to travel to a Canadian snowboard Mecca set in British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains. The Revelstoke region is home to over 2,200 vertical feet [670m] of powder-coated, pillow-lined, 40-degree-plus terrain and hosts the perfect venue for an iconic backcountry showdown.
Here are the highlights from last year's showdown at Baldface Lodge:

11 min

Best of Baldface

14 of the world's best freestyle snowboarders gave it their all – catch up with the best of the action here.

Stage 3: Alaska, USA
In the finale, the same riders (eight men and four women) from Stage 2 will head north to push the limits of big mountain freestyle riding in the notorious V Mountain range. This is where the world’s top all-mountain freestyle snowboarders will be crowned.
Hana Beaman competes at Red Bull Natural Selection Tour at Tordrillo Mountain, Alaska, USA on 21 March, 2021.

Hana Beaman showing no fear

© Tom Monterosso/Natural Selection Tour/Red Bull Content Pool


The hype

Professional snowboarding is disciplined. The world’s top slopestyle and halfpipe riders follow the competition scene, while the most influential big mountain riders avoid competitions altogether and drop a season’s worth of video footage each autumn. Specialisations take precedence and riders stick to their strong suit.
Natural Selection Tour has rewritten these rules in an attempt to crown the best all-mountain snowboarder. From Freeride World Tour champions and veteran backcountry specialists to gold medallists, the tour transcends disciplines to hand-pick the most unlikely competitive match-ups.
For example, here are two highly-anticipated heats from Stage 1 of 2023:
Scenario 1 – Backcountry legend Travis Rice versus Red Gerard, a slopestyle prodigy from Silverthorne, Colorado.
Scenario 2 – Slopestyle prodigy Zoi Sadowski-Synnott versus up-and-coming backcountry specialist Marissa Krawczak.
When someone wins a Natural Selection event, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call that person the best rider in the world
Watch highlights from the 2022 Natural Selection Tour at Jackson Hole:

Day 2 – Jackson Hole

The second day at Travis Rice’s home mountain sees the competitors take on Jackson Hole’s dynamic terrain.

Talk about once-in-a-lifetime battles, right? Now imagine these legendary heats taking place on a powder-filled course and broadcast live on Red Bull TV.
You'll be able to watch highlights of the duels right here, too.
Download the free Red Bull TV app and catch the snowboarding action on all your devices! Get the app here

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