The Natural Selection Tour is an occasion that skilled snowboarder Travis Rice has been manifesting (his phrases) because the first iteration of the big-mountain freestyle occasion in 2008 at his dwelling resort of Jackson Gap. Over the past decade-plus, Rice has continued to evolve the competition format, reimagining it in 2012 and 2013 at a backcountry cat-skiing vacation spot deep within the backcountry of British Columbia.
Rice noticed these previous contests as “beta occasions” which led to a realization of his final imaginative and prescient which we lastly bought to see yesterday (Tuesday, Feb. 9). What that regarded like, when the powder cleared, was the winningest Winter X Video games medalist of all time, Canadian rider Mark McMorris, slashing and burning by means of 4 toes of contemporary powder at Jackson Gap Mountain Resort, battling by means of head-to-head brackets to advance previous the perfect riders on the planet to earn the win.
McMorris was joined on the rostrum by the winner of the ladies’s subject, 19-year-old Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, a rider higher identified for her podium performances in Olympic Massive Air and X Video games Slopestyle. However on the Tuesday finals, she confirmed that she has what it takes to place it down in powder.
Whereas some readers would possibly consider snowboarders as a homogenous bunch, these of us who spend admittedly an excessive amount of time within the weeds of the game know that, because of the excessive degree of contests and the more and more technical programs, riders have been pressured to hyper-specialize of their fields. Travis Rice’s intention for the Pure Choice Tour is to convey riders collectively in a venue that challenges the very basis of their abilities.
When this occasion kicked off with the qualifiers last Thursday, no one may have predicted who would win. The sector of 24 males and eight ladies was full of snowboarders who’ve medaled in Olympic slopestyle and massive air on perfectly-groomed programs with meticulously thought-about takeoffs and landings, going in opposition to halfpipe specialists who spend years studying the sting management and energy wanted to expertly throw down methods in a transition, and Freeride World Tour opponents—riders whose skillset is selecting their method down the sheer faces of the European Alps.
Rice himself, going huge on the Pure Choice Finals.Rice had this to say forward of the occasion, “The Pure Choice Tour will reward the riders who’re in a position to make the most of essentially the most lifetime expertise on a snowboard. And all of those totally different backgrounds supply totally different benefits,” he mentioned. “It takes a lifetime of expertise to do effectively at this contest with the variability of terrain, variability of situations, to each plan a run down this course and to have the ability to on-sight when issues don’t go in accordance with plan on the best way down.” He added, “The riders who’re in a position to make fast choices and react with out having to suppose it by means of, are those who’re going to do rather well.”
The competitors venue ridden was a steep pitch inbounds at Jackson Gap Mountain Resort, encompassing 16 acres of big-mountain terrain, full with over 50 pure jumps and enhanced pure options. These enhanced pure options included transitions, takeoffs and landings to problem each using type. Did we point out it had snowed 4 toes in as many days, making for a clean slate down the course?
The day kicked off with eight males going head-to-head. Mark McMorris had the unenviable matchup in opposition to the GOAT, Travis Rice if he was to advance out of quarterfinals. This was one of the crucial watched matchups of the day. Rice channeled energy, pace and power and, impressively threw down a run that included an enormous double backflip, however it wasn’t sufficient to beat “the child.” McMorris mentioned, “The stress peaked once I needed to drop after Travis. It disintegrated afterwards and it simply grew to become actually enjoyable. All through the day I simply began to construct and have an increasing number of enjoyable.”
Subsequent cease for McMorris was in opposition to his Burton teammate, Mikkel Bang. Bang gave McMorris a run for his cash, the Norwegian rider nearly destroying himself trying a technical board faucet on a cliff face, which he completely nailed on his second run, however it wasn’t sufficient. Lastly, McMorris got here head-to-head in opposition to halfpipe specialist, Ben Ferguson.
Ferguson had been combating his personal battles all through the day. The trendy rider from Bend, Oregon first teed up in opposition to fan-favorite and 2014 Olympic Gold Medalist Sage Kotsenburg in quarterfinals. Kotsenburg got here in sizzling with a Cab 900, doubtlessly the trick of the day, however Ferguson’s run in opposition to Sage earned one of many highest scores of the complete day—incorporating technical swap (using backwards) methods by means of the powdery course. Ferguson then needed to take out hometown hero Blake Paul. Ferguson as soon as once more leaned closely on using swap and, threw down a Cab 540 and an enormous bottom 700, in a run peppered with powder turns, slashers and a backflip or two.
Ferguson, offering some context for his finals competition (above), and on track. The solar got here out as McMorris and Ferguson lastly battled in finals—the previous a slopestyle champion, the latter halfpipe, each established backcountry riders and Burton teammates, who by the way spent the previous yr filming collectively for the Burton One World Film. McMorris took the lead within the first spherical and held onto it regardless of an unimaginable displaying from Ferguson. McMorris flowed by means of his finals runs linking up a Double Wildcat, Cab 900, enviable powder turns, and, in fact, a technique salute. Ferguson answered again with runs heavy on swap using together with a Cab Underflip and a bottom 900 off an enormous characteristic dubbed the Nice Wall, nailing a heavy swap touchdown. Nevertheless it was McMorris who took the win. [Watch the replay of the RedBull livecast.]
McMorris mentioned, “This win is the most important that I’ve had in years—when all of your friends care about an occasion, it means one thing. That is the true essence of snowboarding—freeriding with freestyle elements.” In a touching second that adopted, McMorris referred to as out a thanks to JBC, the late Jake Burton Carpenter, the Burton founder, who sadly handed away in 2019 and was a detailed buddy of McMorris’.
Rice, the visionary behind the occasion says it “was every little thing that we envisioned—there was positively simply an additional degree of pleasure in with the ability to have the situations that we did, the rider subject that we did, and, actually pulling this occasion off within the present local weather, that alone was a feat.” However, in true Rice style, he’s already wanting forward, “I actually suppose that is only the start. I’m simply actually excited for the long run.”
The Pure Choice Tour advances on from Jackson Gap to the Bronco Sport Pure Choice at Baldface Lodge, Feb. 28–March 7, 2021 deep within the inside of B.C., Canada. The Tour will culminate on the HempFusion Pure Choice at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge in Alaska, March 20–27, 2021. There, the perfect snowboarders on the planet can be topped.
For entry to unique gear movies, movie star interviews, and extra, subscribe on YouTube!