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The Natural Selection Tour is a contest in a class by itself
The Natural Selection Tour is a competition worthy of its own distinct branch in the taxonomy of snowboarding events and history. Its unique combination of technical backcountry riding and slopestyle wizardry is equally appealing to brazen street riders, big mountain fanatics, high-flying park rats, and connoisseurs of the perfect turn. The competition also captures the gaze of the larger non-snowboarding public: who doesn’t like watching athletes defy gravity and explode clouds of powder across untouched slopes?
Natural Selection accomplishes the goal of mass appeal without selling out. It’s a manifestation of the best parts of snowboarding: the deep connections between the mountains, the snow, and the people. Each stop of the tour pays homage to the extensive skills, earned experience, and precision knowledge athletes must have to take the title. NST takes the dizzying progression of snowboarding and gives it context. Each tour stop is carefully chosen to display the art of movement on the canvas of snow.
“It was about imagining it was a sweet powder day, and I was going down this epic run; there was no competitive element of it. I guess I was trying to fool myself.”
– Hana Beaman
At the heart of the competition is pure love for snowboarding. If you talk to the riders, they say NST feels less like a competition and more like sharing a good day and perfect conditions with friends. The audience gets a front-row seat to each athlete’s talents and mental process in real-time. The follow-drone point-of-view footage puts everyone right inside the action, like a video game come to life. Only the air and snow are closer to the athletes’ first-person perspectives.
“Natural Selection is unique in the sense that you can study the course and you see it, but it’s unknown until you drop in because anything can happen.”
– Austen Sweetin
It is not enough in life to have a bold vision for the world. You also must have the perseverance to construct it. Natural Selection is emblematic of that truth. What started decades ago as a vision in Travis Rice’s expansive imagination has become real. Natural Selection is for the community, built by local hands, a call back to our roots, and an ode to what makes snowboarding so transcendent.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
Big Bear, CA
34.2439° N, 116.9114° W
Mtn: Mt. Baker, WA Stance: Regular Instagram:@hibeams
Hana Beaman is one of the most legendary snowboarders to ever strap in. With a career that spans nearly two decades, Hana has done it all. Early in her career, she was one of the best park riders on earth. As her career rapidly progressed, so did Beaman’s skill set, as she set off into the backcountry to pursue powder riding. With power at the forefront blended with finesse and fluidity, Hana Beaman is one of the frontrunners for the first event in Jackson in January. She has as good a chance as any to stand atop that podium at the end of the week.
Lake Tahoe, NV
38.9399° N, 119.9772° W
Mtn: Palisades Tahoe, CA Stance: Goofy Instagram:@elenahight
Lake Tahoe local Elena Hight has a unique eye for reading backcountry terrain and adapting to the environment around her, Elena is hard to beat when snow conditions are deep. Growing up in the competitive halfpipe scene sharpened Elena’s mental edge, but coupled with her knack for riding powder, Elena is a formidable force within the Tour. This winter, Elena will drop in yet again and look to emerge from Jackson as the champion while setting her sights on the next two stops in Baldface and Alaska.
France’s Marion Haerty takes a big-mountain, route-finding approach to her riding and brings a new flavor to the Natural Selection Tour. As a four-time winner of the Freeride World Tour, Marion understands the competitive mindset that it takes to win on a world stage, and she proved that last winter when she advanced all the way to finals in Jackson Hole. In the end, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott’s freestyle prowess bested Marion, but she has a chance to redeem herself on the 2022 Tour, starting in Jackson Hole.
43.4799° N, 110.7624° W
Mtn: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY Stance: Goofy Instagram:@travisrice
Widely regarded as the greatest backcountry snowboarder to ever strap in, Jackson, Wyoming’s Travis Rice has done more to push the level in off-piste riding than anyone. In 2008, Travis incepted the Natural Selection competition idea while he also put out groundbreaking films like That’s It, That’s All, The Art of Flight, and The Fourth Phase. Simply put, Travis Rice is one of the all-time greats, and any time that he straps in, the audience is in for a grand show… This winter will be no different.
43.4799° N, 110.7624° W
Mtn: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY Stance: Regular Instagram:@blakepaul
Jackson Hole, Wyoming’s native son, Blake Paul is as fluid as he is explosive in the backcountry. A star on the rapid rise in the snowboard scene, Blake made a name for himself in Vans Snowboarding’s 2017 release, Landline. Blake’s approach to snowboarding is light-footed, nimble and spontaneously beautiful. Last year on his home turf, Blake introduced himself to the masses by taking out German powerhouse Elias Elhardt. Blake is the next big thing in backcountry riding, and we couldn’t be more proud to have him on the 2022 Natural Selection Tour.
Mikkel Bang is one of the most powerful snowboarders on the Tour. Hailing from Oslo, Norway, Mikkel burst onto the snowboard scene as a young kid on the Burton Smalls team. From there, his career arc took him toward the competitive circuit, where Mikkel took part in nearly every major slopestyle and big air event around the globe. When Mikkel stepped into the backcountry, he took those skills to big, inaccessible mountains, from BC to Japan and Alaska. With a third-place finish in Jackson last year and a win in Alaska, Mikkel has much more to prove in 2022.
COVID-19 Information: We are very aware of the current situation and are moving forward in hopes that by the time of the events we feel good about doing them in person. If we do, we are asking for a higher than normal level of testing protocol to help protect our attendees. Negative PCR test results taken within 72 hours are required for event entry. There are three Curative testing sites available in Jackson Hole with Free testing. To avoid event entry issues, please do not wait until day of show to acquire proof of test/results. Full refunds will be provided if events are canceled due to COVID-19.