© Tim Zimmerman
The Bronco Natural Selection brings its snowboarding progression to Canada
Get the inside track on the innovative format, the rider list and the venue as snowboarding's new favorite experience hits Baldface.
When Natural Selection Tour took place at Jackson Hole in Wyoming, snowboarding experienced a break-the-internet moment. The international snowboarding community was rapt as a new facet of competitive riding was launched.
Now, as the tour hits British Columbia for its only Canadian stop, elite backcountry shredders are poised to debut another groundbreaking format. Riders will gather at Baldface for a week-long filming window, where they'll produce edits and film top-to-bottom runs that showcase the very best of the backcountry freestyle lifestyle.
With an all-Canadian cast, the shoot promises a unique glimpse into the personalities driving one of the most progressive microcosms of snowboarding talent in the world. Here's what you need to know.
Welcome to Baldface Valhalla
At Baldface Valhalla, the tour aims to reinvent the wheel again. Riders will submit an overall action edit and a single top-to-bottom run to Natural Selection Tour judges, who'll award invitations to the tour's Super Finals in Alaska to the top male and female submissions.
An experimental format
At Jackson Hole, the Natural Selection Tour kept audiences on their feet with a head-to-head ladder format, which made for the most exciting contest in recent memory.
While this marks a major incentive to stand out, think of it as a symposium of style, rather than a contest in the traditional sense. It's less about elevating any single rider than capturing a collaborative moment in snowboarding. Securing an invite to Alaska is more akin to getting the ender part in a movie than standing on the top of a podium.
A community of rippers
This event has a bona-fide fantasy list of Canadian snowboarders:
- Beau Bishop
- Chris Rasman
- Dustin Craven
- Leanne Pelosi
- Marie-France Roy
- Mark Sollors
- Mikey Rencz
- Robin Van Gyn
- Spencer O’Brien
"The rider list is super heavy," says Craig McMorris. "This is a group of people who've done so much for snowboarding, especially in the filming arena. They picked this roster because they know that these snowboarders are going to produce. Give them seven days, give them this terrain, give them a bunch of cameras -- I think the footage is going to be groundbreaking."
McMorris is a veteran of the X Games Real Snow series. While the experience is relevant to this showcase, he emphasises that Baldface Valhalla is a new beast. "You're filming in such a very tight window," he explains. "To produce something in such a small amount of time is a huge amount of pressure. You don't want to overthink it and get in your head -- it's kind of like wait, show up, see what you're working with. Then you can make a plan."
Despite his wait-and-see approach, One-Footers are on McMorris's mind. Speculation over whether Bode Merrill would unstrap in Jackson Hole ran high and the first tour One-Footer is still up for grabs. "I think there's room to get creative with your riding," he says. "I love doing that, so I might let the back foot breathe."
The level of riding the group collectively brings is off the charts. At Jackson Hole, Chris Rasman demonstrated that he can give event organizer Travis Rice a run for his money, losing their match-up by three points in a tiebreaker. Robin Van Gyn has produced videos such as Depth Perception, which proves her ability to absolutely destroy natural terrain. Dustin Craven has filmed some of the most progressive clips of the last few years and Spencer O'Brien's ongoing transition from competitive slopestyle to backcountry filming has been incredible to watch.
Riding aside, be on the lookout for the camaraderie between these athletes. The tight-knit group has formed strong bonds over years of filming in the backcountry and represents the friendship and community inherent to snowboarding as much as anything.
Catch the action on March 21
The Bronco Natural Selection at Baldface goes live at 1pm PDT on March 21 on Red Bull TV in a broadcast that will reveal the scored top-to-bottom runs for the first time.