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One For The Road

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Travis Rice spills the tea on the Natural Selection Tour and the future of snowboarding

Travis Rice is a pillar of the Jackson Hole snowboarding community, and we knew we wanted to get his perspective into this issue. It took a flurry of last-minute email exchanges with Rice’s team at the Natural Selection Tour, but we finally caught up with the hardest man to pin down in snowboarding.

JHSM: What are you personally looking forward to this winter in Jackson Hole?

Travis Rice: Well, frankly, I’m excited about the new chapter my family is starting with bringing a new daughter into this world. So snowboarding is a bit of a second priority for me this winter. I still hope this season cranks again for the sake of the local grinders who deserve it, if nothing else. Beyond that, I’ll be working on Natural Selection and the SENDY gear marketplace that we launched about a year ago now. Download it off the App Store if you want to check it out. Jackson Hole is the type of town where a lot of locals could always use a side hustle!

JHSM: Tell us about the transition of the Natural Selection Tour from onsite at JHMR to its new 2024 contest format in the BC area. What should viewers, readers, and fans look forward to most with these new tour stops and locations?

Travis: I wouldn’t call it a transition: more of an air-to-flat. But luckily we landed in pow up at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, so it has been an exciting year and I think we just scratched the surface last season up there! I think a lot of people saw the event we pulled off from the deep backcountry with Selkirk Tangiers Heli, which was pretty mind-blowing for a live event with the type of terrain and the conditions we had for it. To top it off, we made it out two days after that event and ran basically another event called Supersession that we didn’t even talk about until a few weeks ago. You can actually find it on Outside TV now and watch it for free. 

For this coming season, we are running a Duels Qualifier for new invites onto the tour, which will take place around the world, then we are focused on the two-day final at Revelstoke. For one of the days, we have a gorgeous venue in the side country off the resort. We also spent all summer working on a new deep-backcountry venue that will be quite a bit different from last season.

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JHSM: Where do you think backcountry competitive snowboarding would be if not for the Natural Selection Tour?

Travis: Hmmm, tough to say, but I think we have really been able to help showcase the craft of the world’s best, combined with some of the best locations and terrain on the planet. The NST has always prioritized mastery and bringing self-expression into an area with conditions that allow for the most varied approach to interacting with the environment. We call our judging criteria CREDO—which stands for creativity, risk, execution, difficulty, and overall. It’s not about how gnarly or how close a rider came to serious injury to get the highest score, as I don’t think events like that are sustainable or the direction snowboard contest culture needs to take. I don’t think this sport needs to keep inching towards football with bodily harm as part of the spectacle, you know? 

This collective movement in snowboarding was somewhat inevitable. We’ve always been headed in this direction. I’m just proud of the NST team, and proud that we continue to listen to the riders. With the support of our long-term partners like YETI, Red Bull, Ski-Doo, and GoPro, we have been able to fast-forward the otherwise incredibly long curve this would probably have taken to get to the quality of the events we are running now. For example, what if we were just waiting for the evolution of the Freeride World Tour–especially now that it is owned by the FIS [Federation of International Skiing]–to get us to a place where competition runs were on par with video part riding? Even if the NST were to end tomorrow, the world can’t unsee what we did, and I think that will continue to influence the snowboard contest landscape for the better.

JHSM: Parting words for JHSM readers?

Travis: See you in the forest…

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