It’s the stuff of desires: sixteen acres of untracked inbounds terrain at Wyoming’s Jackson Gap Mountain Resort, flocked in ft of sparking contemporary powder, untouched save for the towering transitions and takeoffs scattered throughout the slope.

Jackson Hole Wyo
Welcome to Jackson Gap, Wyoming. Chris Wellhausen

That is the setting for the opening cease of the Natural Selection Tour, an invitation-only freeride snowboard contest set to kick off this week at skilled snowboarder Travis Rice’s dwelling resort. You would possibly know of Rice from his many achievements, spanning from X Video games gold medals to exceptional movie productions resembling ​The Artwork of Flight​, ​The Fourth Part​, and most not too long ago, ​Darkish Matter.​ What you may not know is that Rice has additionally been actively developing this freeride contest since launching the primary iteration of the occasion manner again in 2008. Now in 2021, Rice has lastly discovered what he believes to be the key sauce for this big-mountain freeride contest—and no international pandemic goes to foul up his plans. And lo be, he’s truly pulling it off.

Natural Selection Travis Rice
The person with the imaginative and prescient for The Pure Choice sequence, Travis Rice Chris Wellhausen

On Tuesday, the invited riders—16 males and eight girls—acquired a primary have a look at the course underneath sensible blue skies. What they discovered introduced out pre-game nerves in some, whereas others have been left giddy. A launchpad blasting throughout a 70-foot span right here, a sheer rock face there, jumps which you could solely assume should go over the timber: The one factor that’s clear is that there isn’t a straightforward manner down. Some riders will take an virtually mathematical, calculated strategy to their traces; others will discover their move and ship it with intuition as their information.

natural Selection riders snowboard
Pure Choice riders getting their eyes on every of the options of the course. Chris Wellhausen

There’s nothing like this occasion on this planet. Consider it as a hybrid the place X Video games slopestyle development meets the sheer faces of Alaskan big-mountain using. And that’s the precise vary of riders you may have competing on this week’s occasion: from X Video games slopestyle gold medalists Mark McMorris and Jamie Anderson, and Olympic slopestyle gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg, to Freeride World Tour champions Victor de Le Rue and Marion Hearty, to a big contingency of riders who’ve made a reputation for themselves filming for celebrated snowboard films.

Natural Selection riders
Blake Paul, R, and Mark McMorris, L, hyped on Pure Choice arrange. Chris Wellhausen

This two-day occasion runs throughout a chosen contest window from Feb. 3-9, with the primary day of competitors set for immediately (Feb. 4), and the ultimate day to be decided in surf-contest vogue, permitting the rivals to benefit from the absolute best circumstances. The competition can be broadcast stay on Red Bull TV providing viewers uninterrupted front-row seats to the evolution of snowboarding.

What To Watch For:

  • This contest will run in a head-to-head, two-run format, which suggests riders can be paired in opposition to one another with judging primarily based on general impression. Solely eight males and 4 girls will advance into semifinals.
  • Not like most different snowboard contests, riders won’t be given the prospect to trip the course earlier than their judged runs. Which means you’ll be seeing stay snowboarding, which Rice claims is without doubt one of the most enjoyable features of this occasion.
Natural Selection Snowboard Course Preview
Pure Choice Course Preview. Chris Wellhausen
  • The stay broadcast on Red Bull TV will itself be unprecedented and worthy of your rapt consideration. The Pure Choice tour can be utilizing first-of-their-kind, custom-built racing drones piloted by two World Champion Drone Racing pilots, Gabriel “Gab707” Kocher and Jordan “Jet” Temkin, to seize every riders’ contest runs. The drones can be fitted with high-def cameras, leading to unimaginable video game-like, third-person views of the riders descending the course in real-time.
natural Selection snowboard contest jackson
Course upkeep on one of many large options. Chris Wellhausen
  • Within the males’s area, there’s a mixture of riders who embody the time period ‘type grasp’ and people who are higher described as ‘powerhouses.’ The type masters to be careful for are Ben Ferguson, who’s anticipated to unleash some trademark floaty, tweaked-out airs. Likewise, Kotsenburg, Gigi Rüf and Blake Paul are anticipated to carry a inventive move to their runs. For sheer brute drive, look ahead to Chris Rasman to manhandle the course with massive airs and stomped landings, together with Austin Sweetin, Elias Elhardt. And naturally, Rice himself can also be in line to completely cost via the course. Benefit from the distinction of using kinds on show.
natural selection snowboard contest
Austen Sweetin factors out touchdown space to Nils Mindnich and Eric Jackson. Chriss Wellhausen
  • Within the girls’s class, it’ll be enjoyable to distinction the kinds of a longtime big-mountain freerider like Marion Hearty, a repeat Freeride World Tour champion, and Austrian rider Anna Gasser, who Rice has dubbed “probably the most dominant girls’s freestyle snowboarder on the planet.” And likewise, Jamie Anderson, who holds the report for many X Video games medals. Or, will the women who spend their days filming within the backcountry (like Robin Van Gyn, Elena Hight and Hana Beaman) have the aggressive edge?
Natural Selection snowboard contest
Austin Sweetin and Eric Jackson scoping the trajectory potential of this kicker. Chris Wellhausen

The competitors begins immediately (Feb. 4), at 9:30 a.m. PST; tune-in to the YETI Pure Choice at Jackson Gap live-cast on Crimson Bull TV, or from YouTube (beneath) to observe all of the motion. Test again right here and MJ’s Instagram feed, as Contributing Photographer Chris Wellhausen supplies on-site protection of the ultimate occasion.

Following Jackson Gap, the three-stop Pure Choice Contest Tour continues on to Baldface Lodge, a snowcat-accessed ski lodge deep within the inside of British Columbia, and culminates at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, a distant heli-ski vacation spot in Alaska surrounded by towering peaks.


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