It’s that feeling after a long-anticipated hookup. One with the crush you’ve eyed for so long. The kind that leaves you completely and utterly satisfied, yet yearning for more… Yeah, that’s how we feel after the inaugural Natural Selection Jackson Hole. Mind blown and replaying all the action; craving more. Thanks Travis, all the riders, photogs, filmers, and staff for giving us one heck of a show! We’re spent. - HH
The essence of snowboarding— why we all ride– was on full display at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort this past week and exceeded expectations with the inaugural YETI Natural Selection contest.
Travis Rice’s long-awaited next iteration of competitive snowboarding culminated with a battle of the best snowboarders pinned head-to-head on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021.
Natural Selection Jackson Hole which has been in the works for literal years, was nothing short of historic in virtually every aspect. From the roots of a snowboard contest based at Travis Rice’s home mountain Jackson Hole, to the enhanced backcountry freestyle course which boasted over 50 unique features built by Jackson locals and riders, the insane list of invited pros, the custom racing drones built to bring live action straight into our palms and living rooms, to so much more, Natural Selection was everything snowboarding needed.
We’ll get into the winners in a moment, but while we’re getting all mushy, we’ll say this: Natural Selection Jackson Hole transcended what is expected of competitive snowboarding. It illuminated its core: a snowy mountain experience that can be appreciated by all.
My girlfriend, who knows nothing about snowboarding and has only skied a handful of ‘blues’ preferring to sip cocktails in the chalet instead, actually shed a few tears when Mark McMorris ousted Travis Rice in the quarterfinals. Slightly embarrassed by her raw emotion, she chalked it up to being ‘that-time-of-the-month’ as even she, with no vested interest in the winner or outcome at all, acknowledged the monumental exchange in snowboarding. McMorris’ respect and graciousness toward Rice moved her, as it exemplified the purity at the core of our sport.
Sure, it was still a competition with the goal of crowning the best of the all-star bunch, but, it was also a vast coming together of riders from all backgrounds who emulate what snowboarding is all about: Creative Inclusivity.
Mark McMorris and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott earned the actual title, but really, all of us as snowboarders gained from this event.
Winning run vidoes:
Following the run that effectively dethroned Travis from his own monarchy, McMorris emoted, “This win is my biggest win in years.. maybe to date," he said. "When all your peers care about a contest, you know it’s important," Mark continued. "This is the true essence of snowboarding. I wish Jake [Burton Carpenter] was here to watch us on this course, but a huge thanks to Travis for having us all out. What an honor!” he exclaimed.
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, arguably the biggest standout of the event who earned a last-minute entry via a Wildcard slot, ended up winning for the women.
“Three weeks ago I didn't even know I was going to be here!" the 19-year-old said. "I never expected to be competing in Natural Selection, and then to come away with the win definitely means so much to me. I was just so honored to ride with my favorite snowboarders. I’ve learned a lot about riding pow and landing. This is how snowboarding really is and there’s finally an event that shows that. I can’t wait to come back next year!” she beamed after her historic win.
The recap of the winning runs and livestream are just too good not to watch, so we’re going to leave you here to stream the replays. Jump ahead for the incredible riding from the first-ever Natural Selection at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort at the links below!
Baldface and Alaska are up next for the Natural Selection Tour!
Bracket Winners Women:
Bracket Winners Men:
Check photos and action from qualifiers here.