On January 27, a select group of pros set the course for the future of competitive riding as we know it. The test event went off in Jackson Hole for the Natural Selection Tour, set to debut January 2021. Looking to crown the best backcountry freestyle rider on the planet, the tour that has been talked about for years is finally coming to fruition.
Birthed from the mind of Travis Rice and crew expanding upon the original events in Jackson Hole and Baldface, this might be the biggest news to hit all year. Already being celebrated among the ranks of pros that had a taste of the test course last week, we can’t wait to see what comes out of the men and women that are tapped next year.
Official press release below:
The Natural Selection Tour announced its official launch into the winter sports world today, unveiling plans for a new freeride competition tour that will gather the world’s elite male and female snowboarders together over three landmark North American sites beginning in January 2021.
The Natural Selection Tour is spearheaded by renowned snowboarder Travis Rice and will deliver what the snowboarding community has been seeking: a world-class competition tour that combines freestyle tricks with freeriding artistry set on big mountain terrain.
“The Natural Selection Tour is the culmination of over 20 years of experience, riding at the world’s top destinations, experimenting with several individual freeride competitions, and listening to the wishes of professional snowboarders, industry leaders and fans,” Rice said.
The Natural Selection Tour will begin in January 2021, with a planned first stop on Rice’s home mountain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming, one of the most legendary big mountain destinations in the world. Jackson Hole hosted the original Natural Selection event in 2008, which served as a proof-of-concept for the Tour. Both parties are working closely together to formalize their contract later this spring.
“Jackson Hole and I have worked closely for years,” said Rice, “It is such a fun mountain to ride and I am really proud that after we pulled off such a unique event over a decade ago, we now stand together, ready to bring such a paradigm-shifting event to life here that emulates the uniqueness of the local community that has had my back through it all.”
Stop two takes place at Baldface Lodge in Nelson, British Columbia, which hosted the Red Bull Supernatural in 2012 and Red Bull UltraNatural in 2013, igniting a global audience for the freeride competition format.
“Baldface celebrates everything that the Natural Selection Tour embraces, such as community and a passion for the outdoors,” said Baldface co-owner Jeff Pensiero. “Baldface is thrilled to continue its role in snowboard progression and to offer some of the most dynamic terrain to challenge the Tour’s riders.”
The Natural Selection Tour will conclude in Alaska, with the final venue based in the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge tenure. After years of scouting and most recently working with the crew from TML on the production of Dark Matter, the choice for a location to cap off the Tour was obvious.
“For snowboarders and skiers, Alaska represents the ultimate venue for freeriding,” said Tordrillo Mountain Lodge owner Mike Overcast. “It is only appropriate that the Natural Selection Tour crowns its world champion in Alaska.”
The Natural Selection Tour also intends to inspire others to forge a deeper personal relationship with the outdoors, and each stop will include a full week of curated events such as speaker series, films, art exhibits and concerts to engage the public and galvanize the winter sports industry’s voice around conservation and education.
“At such amazing and diverse destinations, the Natural Selection Tour will highlight Mother Nature as the main character,” stated Rice, “and promises to impact people beyond snowboarding.”
The Natural Selection Tour will live-stream its events across global digital platforms with a priority on high-production quality and innovation.
“With the advancement of production technology such as drones, high-definition camera systems, and live-stream distribution infrastructure, the Natural Selection Tour will establish a new standard for how snowboarding and live sports, in general, will be captured and delivered,” said co-founder and CEO, Carter Westfall. “The Tour’s live and original content promises to be immersive, engaging and inspiring to a broad demographic of snowboarders, sports and outdoor enthusiasts.”
The Natural Selection Tour announces its launch after recently hosting a crew of the world’s top riders at Jackson Hole, including Rice, Austen Sweetin, Blake Paul, Bode Merrill, Bryan Fox, David Carrier Porcheron, Elena Hight, Hana Beaman, Leanne Pelosi, Nicolas Müller, Pat Moore, Robin Van Gyn, Sage Kotsenburg, and Werni Stock to test the Natural Selection course, which is still in development, and to provide input into various Tour components.
“The Natural Selection Tour team has been in communication with professional riders of all generations in order to ensure that their voices are woven into the fabric of the Tour,” said co-founder and COO Liam Griffin.
The Natural Selection Tour will announce its roster of competitors in the fall through a combination of criteria currently in development. Updates on Natural Selection Tour dates, rider lists, broadcast partners, sponsors, and attendee information will be regularly posted at www.naturalselectiontour.com
This article originally appeared on Snowboarder.com and was republished with permission.
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