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Course Craftsmen

Meet the crew that brought the Jackson Hole Natural Selection course to life

My left hand was firmly gripped around the old 4Runner’s “oh-shit” handle as we bounced up a service road at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Through the smell of a D.O.G. breakfast burrito and the constant chatter of the car and all its contents, Colter Buhler calmly read the day’s horoscopes from the Jackson Hole Daily for all those aboard.

For months this has been the typical commute for the local build crew for Travis Rice’s Natural Selection event. Today is one of the final days for the crew, a project 3+ years in the making. This group, plus many others that I wasn’t able to capture, have been clearing debris, building log flumes, crafting large take-offs and immense landings, and hauling countless feet of lumber up, down, and across the steep slopes of the Moran Face at JHMR. Alongside Travis Rice, they brought to life a vision of natural terrain amplified by human-made features, and it wouldn’t have been possible without their dedication.

Colter Buhler, Mark Landvik, and Bode Merrill working hard. Photos: Ryan Dee

On this cold morning in October the crew was in high spirits as they fought to dismantle the “Flume-X,” a long, roughly-assembled wooden trough. With the aid of gravity, the Flume-X brought the much-needed lumber quickly down the mountain to where they were building. There was an air of excitement and relief that their commitment to the course was coming to an end. They were worn, bruised, and tired but also stoked to have done their part in bringing Natural Selection to life. When asked what feature they most look forward to experiencing this winter, no one could narrow it down to a single structure. The Turtle Shell, Master Blaster, Bode’s Jump, Aircraft Carrier, and many more names get thrown around for the features. All you need to know is that they are all handcrafted and going to be an otherworldly experience with a white blanket of Jackson Hole’s finest.x

So if you run into any of this crew on the mountain this winter or at the bar, make sure to give them some stoke or consider putting their next beer on your tab.

Ryan Dee is a photographer with
a fondness for GIFs. @ryandeecreative

 

Mike McKelvey
Mark Landvik
Colter Buhler

 

The infamous Flume-X. The flume was an ever-expanding operation that was torn down and rebuilt in new positions as features were built further down the slope. Beware of flying lumber!

 

Ranyon D’arge showing a little stoke from his Ewok inspired tower. Ranyon and his crew built a viewing tower out of natural timber for the Natural Selection judges and VIPs to use during the event.

 

Clockwise from bottom: Travis Rice, Kenny Soklowski, and Sage Kotsenburg envisioning a feature. The process of building features relied entirely on what the mountain provided and the lines that the builders imagined.
Kenny Soklowski
Ryan Barbieri
Sam Phillips