Natural Selection has done its thing: hello Travis Rice and the 2021 riders
© Tim Zimmerman/Red Bull Content Pool
Many of the best riders in the world kick off the Natural Selection Tour in February 2021 at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming, USA. Don't miss a thing, as it'll be aired live on Red Bull TV.
Anticipation can be an incredible thing and in our culture hype can be heightened by it. In an age where information's so readily available, the news last winter that the Natural Selection was coming back as a three-stop tour in 2021 shocked the snowboarding world and thus, the anticipation officially set in.
Since then, there've been many updates, Instagram stories, web posts and interviews about the Natural Selection Tour, but today, the detailed itinerary of the Tour and the first batch of invited riders in the men’s and women’s fields have been announced. Holy cow, here we go!
From February 3 to the 9, 2021, Travis Rice’s home mountain of Jackson Hole, Wyoming will host the first official stop of the Natural Selection Tour, with a custom-built course that included input from some of the world’s best backcountry freestyle snowboarders. The Natural Selection team hosted a 'rider’s build week' during the course build, ensuring that expert opinions were heavily considered when making all the final tweaks to the Jackson course.
Liam Griffin, co-founder and COO of the Natural Selection Tour said: “Our team has been in communication with professional riders of all generations in order to ensure that their voices are woven into the fabric of the Tour.” This is something that snowboard events need to pride themselves on; gathering intel from those who'll be riding what they build and this team have certainly done it right with this new event.
Jackson just so happens to be the first Natural Selection host venue ever, when, in 2008, Travis invited some of the world’s best freeriders for a two-day event that changed the course of backcountry freestyle snowboarding. “Jackson Hole and I have worked closely for years,” said Travis, “It is such a fun mountain to ride and I'm really proud that after we pulled off such a unique event over a decade ago, we now stand together, ready to bring such a paradigm-shifting event to life here that emulates the uniqueness of the local community that's had my back through it all.”
Harking back to the heritage of the Natural Selection’s evolution, the second stop of the Tour will land in the iconic snowboard hub of Baldface Lodge, a beautiful snowcat lodge nestled high in the hills above Nelson, British Columbia.
In 2012 and 2013, Travis took the event up to Canada and partnered up with Baldface founder and co-owner Jeff Pensiero to ride a custom-built course with over 80 hand-built features called 'Scary Cherry' to battle it out for thousands of dollars in prize money and bragging rights for being the best backcountry rider on earth.
To say the event was a smashing success is the understatement of the century and so it’s only natural that Travis and the Natural Selection crew are planning on taking the second stop of the tour back to Baldface, a harbinger of deep, light snow and world-class terrain.
“Baldface celebrates everything that the Natural Selection Tour embraces, such as community and a passion for the outdoors,” Pensiero said. “Baldface is thrilled to continue its role in snowboard progression and to offer some of the most dynamic terrain to challenge the Tour’s riders.”
The final stop of the Tour will take place in Alaska at the world-renowned Tordrillo Mountain Lodge tenure, where the champion of the Tour will be crowned for the first time ever. Travis spent quite a bit of time exploring this tenure while filming his 2019 epic Dark Matter and the terrain is some of the most technical and hair-raising that the contest world will ever see.
Tordrillo Mountain Lodge owner Mike Overcast had this to say about the selection of TML for the final stop of The Natural Selection Tour: “For snowboarders and skiers, Alaska represents the ultimate venue for freeriding. It’s only appropriate that the Natural Selection Tour crowns its champion in Alaska.”
With this announcement comes the first batch of invited riders for the Natural Selection Tour and the list is as full of heavy hitters as you'd expect:
- Gigi Rüf: Star of famed film 9191. Second place at Supernatural in 2012. First place at Ultranatural.
- Sage Kotsenburg: Star of JOY & Halcyon and 2014 Olympic gold medalist in slopestyle.
- Elias Elhardt: Star of Dark Matter and one of the world’s best freestyle backcountry riders.
- Nils Mindnich: 2019/2020 Freeride World Tour overall champion.
- Mark McMorris: Star of One World. 17 X Games medals. 4 US Open slopestyle championships. 2 Olympic medals in slopestyle.
- Ben Ferguson: Star of JOY. Multiple X Games halfpipe medals and a member of the 2018 US Olympic halfpipe team.
- Chris Rasman: Star of The Manboys film series and a Whistler backcountry freestyle legend (featured in Truffle Pigs with Rice).
- Travis Rice: Star of The Community Project, That’s It, That’s All, The Art of Flight and The Fourth Phase and arguably the greatest backcountry freestyle snowboarder of all-time.
- Jamie Anderson: Star of Unconditional. The most decorated female X Games athlete in history. Back-to-back 2014 and 2018 Olympic slopestyle gold medalist.
- Robin Van Gyn: Star of Full Moon and Depth Perception and one of the most powerful and technical backcountry riders in the world.
- Elena Hight: Star of 2020’s Blank Canvas. X Games gold medalist. Olympian. And the first woman to land an alley-oop double backside rodeo in the halfpipe.
- Marion Haerty: Three-time Freeride World Tour overall champion.
The Natural Selection Tour will be available on Red Bull TV, with the first stop being aired live from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. If you know anything about Travis and his films, you should know that the utmost emphasis is being put on high-quality production levels through innovation and experience.
“With the advancement of production technology, such as drones, high-definition camera systems and live stream distribution infrastructure, the Natural Selection Tour will establish a new standard for how snowboarding and live sports in general will be captured and delivered," co-founder and CEO of the Natural Selection Tour, Carter Westfall, said. "The Tour’s live and original content promises to be immersive, engaging and inspiring to a broad demographic of snowboarders, sports and outdoor enthusiasts."
Stay tuned for more information on the Natural Selection Tour, as more invited rider names and details about every stop emerge, plus info on how you can watch all the action when the Tour gets underway.
In true Travis fashion, this is going to be epic!