Natural Selection Tour is back

Natural Selection Tour is back

Photo Credits: Natural Selection Tour. Promotional graphic of The Natural Selection Tour, a backcountry, free-riding snowboarding competition formerly known as the Supernatural tour.

A recap of stop #1

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, Jackson Hole, WY.

The first day of YETI Natural Selection Tour snowboard contest took off Thursday morning, in bounds, at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The contest is the brainchild of world-renowned snowboarder Travis Rice, and has been years in the making. 

Quicksilver ran the original event in Jackson Hole in 2008 under the name “Natural Selection,” and it was run again in 2012 as “Red Bull Supernatural” at Canada’s Baldface Lodge. 

Twenty four professional snowboarders were selected to participate in the event this year: 16 men and eight women, ranging from backcountry veterans like Eric Jackson (also known as E-Jack) to slopestyle competitor Jamie Anderson and halfpipe rider Ben Ferguson, to newer faces like Zoi Sadowski-Synott. The format followed eight head-to-head heats for the first day, two runs each, with a tiebreaker if needed, overall score not counting. 

Each run was scored on each rider’s use of the course, flow and creativity. Fresh snow gave each rider plenty of powder to slash and to cushion the landings on some of the bigger enhanced natural features that were built over the course of the summer. 

The head-to-head format and unique judging offered a chance for newer backcountry and freeride competition riders like Sadowski-Synott and Mark McMorris to advance on to the next day of competition.

Day two saw the elimination of event-hopefuls such as Austin Sweetin, Olympian Sage Kotsenburg, Pat Moore and even Travis Rice all in the quarter finals. 

Women’s backcountry pioneers Hana Beaman and Elena Hight were eliminated in their rounds, while the world champion French freerider Marion Haerty and Zoi Sadowski-Synott faced off in the finals. 

Eighteen-year-old New Zealander Sadowski-Synott dominated, taking the win at this first competition of its kind for women in snowboarding. 

In the mens’ semifinals, Jackson native Blake Paul was knocked out of the competition by Oregonian Ben Ferguson. Ferg went on to face Mark McMorris, who barely slid past Norweigian Mikkel Bang in their heat. 

In the final round, Ferg found some difficulty staying on his feet throughout his two runs while McMorris managed to stay up and put together two full lines. McMorris was crowned, adding a Natural Selection win to his already highly-decorated career in snowboarding. 

The next stop of the Natural Selection Tour is set to begin the first week of March at Baldface Lodge in Canada. 

Written by: Cameron Perry — arts@theaggie.org