Ben Ferguson snowboarder
Ben Ferguson performs in Jackson Hole, 2016; photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Travis Rice Announces ‘Natural Selection’ Snowboard Tour to Crown World’s Best

The Natural Selection Tour aims to be the highest echelon of competitive snowboarding, and its focus is on the backcountry.

The newest competition in the wintersports world — the Natural Selection Tour — will embrace the toughest, most varied, and most difficult backcountry terrain across three worldwide locations. A brainchild and dream of pro snowboarder Travis Rice, it’s the world’s first backcountry-based competition.

Aside from the Burton U.S. Open, Freeride World Tour, and FIS World Snowboarding Cup, there aren’t that many major pro-level snowboarding comps. And none so far have had such an emphasis on the backcountry.

Sixteen men and eight women will ride in the inaugural tour. Half of the riders were announced this week; the rest will be announced in January. It’s not known why there is a gender disparity in the number of competitors. The Natural Selection Tour committee handpicks each competitor, which includes Pat Bridges, editor of Snowboarder Magazine, and pro snowboarders Barrett Christy Cummins and Travis Rice.

The opening event in Jackson Hole will air on Feb. 3-9, 2021, on Red Bull TV for free. You can watch a teaser below.

Natural Selection Tour: The Terrain

The three locations on the tour are Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming, Baldface Lodge in Nelson, British Columbia, and Tordrillo Mountain in Alaska. At each location, the competition will rely on how well riders tackle natural backcountry and inbounds terrain.

“The Tour’s innovative format will reveal riders’ full creative expression and require a deep knowledge of backcountry conditions to reign supreme. All events will run within seven-day windows to ensure that the terrain is in peak conditions,” the Tour website reads.

In Jackson Hole, snowboarders will ride inbounds through a complex zone of rugged obstacles and steep jumps. At Baldface in British Columbia, the area of terrain includes 80 massive drops and kickers on an extreme 40-plus-degree slope.

Travis Rice snowboarding
Travis Rice puts in a run on the Natural Selection test course; photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

In Tordrillo, Alaska, competitors will ride a section of terrain that includes big mountain drops and narrow, steep spines. Tordrillo’s runs top out at a whopping 7,500 feet. This will be the “finalists” location: the top four men’s and two women’s finishers will go head to head in one last epic comp.

Aside from basing the comp off natural backcountry terrain, the Natural Selection Tour will attempt to be sustainable in other ways. The Tour partnered with Conservation International and YETI to develop a “sustainability strategy,” with carbon-neutral events and conservation initiatives.

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Mary Murphy
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Mary is based out of GearJunkie's Denver, CO office. She has a degree in English and Journalism, and been writing professionally for over four years. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

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