Who is the best snowboarder in the world? That's what Travis Rice aimed to determine at Red Bull Ultra Natural, an all-mountain freestyle competition in Nelson, British Columbia that the snowboarder created (and which took place in February, but will air on March 30th on NBC at 1:30 p.m. EST). As a Jackson Hole native who's spent the last decade setting the sport's bar ever higher for films, big tricks, and innovative competitions, "Trice" seems as good a judge as any, having won his own contest in 2012. While it's hard to even fathom how a human body can launch off such monstrous jumps and cliffs, huck a double 1080, and land with a board beneath them, even Travis knows when to play it safe. In 2012, 34 people were killed in the U.S. by avalanches in mostly backcountry terrain, bringing to the ski industry's forefront a need to increase avalanche danger awareness and education. While more and more recreational skiers head out of bounds for added excitement and more challenging terrain, it's still worth taking a page or two out of Travis's book of safety experience. We got a hold of him between heli drops to tap his expert advice for backcountry safety tips.
Take it slow.
With the proper precautions, backcountry travel can be a safe and exhilarating thing to do with your friends. A slow and calculated backcountry approach isn't only safe, it's more enjoyable. "I personally love it because it gets me one step closer to a clearer state of mind," says Travis. "Traversing out through forests where you're not just hot-lapping groomed resort runs, shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of other people – there's something to be said for taking it a little slower." Stay focused and alert to all the dangers you're taking on by being out there, but stop and take a look around every once in a while. Breath in some fresh air, high-five your friends, and be proud of yourself for earning a few of the sweetest turns you'll take all season.
Credit: Scott Serfas / Red Bull Content Pool