Last year was amazing, but met with some challenges. This year is set to blow minds. Proper tour in effect, STACKED rider list with the best in the world and different conditions for the event window. Travis reckon’s we’re going to see shit on a snowboard that will enter another stratosphere. Game on.
The 2022 YETI Natural Selection Tour at Jackson Hole featuring the world’s top riders from contest medalists to big mountain slayers will livestream globally and for free on across transfermag.com, January 23-31, with the seven-day contest window opening Wednesday January 25.
Make sure to stay tuned across our channels here and NST’s channels here, where we will feature the most exciting moments from the opening ceremony including determining rider match-ups on January 23, right through the closing ceremony, with two days of intense head-to-head competition in the natural(ly) enhanced venue at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in between.
A stacked crew of new riders are on the tour this year, including Arthur Longo, Danny Davis, Kevin Backstrom, Jared Elston, Marie-France Roy, Torgeir Bergrem, Cheryl Mass, Sebbe De Buck, Gabe Ferguson and Torstein Horgmo. They’ll be joining the eight men and six women who requalified from the 2021 Tour.
To refresh your memory they are, Mikkel Bang, Robin Van Gyn, Ben Ferguson, Blake Paul, Travis Rice, Sage Kotsenburg, Austen Sweetin, Chris Rasman, Dustin Craven, Marion Haerty, Hana Beaman, Elena Hight, Spencer O’Brien and Leanne Pelosi.
We caught up with the man himself Travis Rice to chat about the event, conditions, what’s new and lots more. Read below:
Transfer: Travis! Let’s dive right in. Is, is there anything new format wise for this year’s tour?
Travis: Yo! Yep there’s actually a couple things new this year. Firstly, we actually have a proper through the line tour from Jackson to BC to Alaska. Last year, because of COVID we had to do this kind of weird event in Canada, you know, with different riders. And then this year it’s game on… technically, this is the first year the actual tour, as last year wasn’t really a tour.
The other thing that we’re changing, which isn’t very different is the head to head format. It’s cutthroat, it’s fucking savage. Only half of the riders from Jackson proceed to the next stop. So it will be head to head rounds, with tie breaker rounds which have the ability to go down in any heat. Whereas last year it was limited to the qualifiers and the super final.
Heading into Jackson, who are your hot picks to take it out?
I mean, looking into who thrived last year, right. Obviously, I took Rasman out first run, but I still think he’s got to be one of the strongest contenders. I mean the beauty of this event is the majority of the riders, could be on the podium.
And then especially when you start factoring in the new riders…we’re talking the cream of the crop. It’s anyone’s game.
There’s been a lot of buzz in the snowboarding community the last couple weeks as NST drop new invited riders. How did you decide on the new invited writers?
Well, one of the most authentic things about this contest is it’s like all riders want to come to this event. I think pretty much says everything! We have a selection committee. It is majority independent. The majority of people on the selection committee are not affiliated with natural selection, which I think is another cool component.
Because there’s so much talent out there, we made the decision to keep it always open for new blood. That’s why the head to head is so savage, we always have half a spot open for the tour the following year.
Transfer actually has our expert contributor, Chas Smith on the ground this week in Jackson…Do you have any hot tips for Chas?!
Oh man, I got lots of tips for Chas, for sure. Like where the best bars are to drink. Where he can rub shoulders with high brow individuals who don’t have anything to do with the contest.
Honestly, no one could be really fucking better for the job than Chas. I would like to see Chaz interview the most dressed up crew in Jackson and get their thoughts on Natural Selection and the majority of them probably aren’t gonna have a clue what it is, that would be awesome.
He can literally just hang out in the lobby of the Four Seasons for the whole week.
You love Japan. We love Japan. Do you ever see a potential tour stop there in the future?
Ab-so-fucking-loutely. I mean, don’t get me wrong. If people tune into these events and watch them…then someday, we’re going to get to Japan. It’s high on the list.
Yes! Now, are you going to actually try and get some sleep before you drop in this time round?
I sure hope so, man. I mean, I’m a victim of nothing I’ve asked for all of it. So I kinda just take it in stride. I mean, you know, ultimately my number one priority is making sure that the event that we put on is as good as it can be. And then, you know, after that, I’m psyched to be able to drop in and, and rub shoulders with the best in the world. It’s an honor.
What are the conditions looking like for the event window? You’ve got to be the most knowledgeable source in Jackson!
I think that this year is going to be sporty. I think that’s how I would define it.
The riders have to adapt and frankly, it’s going to be a little bit more like resort riding. It’s not going to be like like last year, with two and a half feet deep of fresh, like in the backcountry pal. It’s going to be sporty, super tech resort writing. And I think that it’s going to be really fun to watch it.
I think you’re gonna really see, who can control their snowboard out of the bunch. Because, it’s one thing to ride two and a half feet deep, where you’re just motoring along and do a bit of a yawn between features.
This years conditions means it’s a completely different beast. You have to really plan out how you’re going to ride the course and where are you going to kill speed. I’m excited to see people ride it, because I feel like you’re going to have some people who are going to be straight carving the shit out of it and some who are checking speed the whole time.
And then you’re going to have some people who are just like, you know, throwing the board sideways, doing hack slides, which aren’t gonna look that good.
What’s your weapon of choice for the Jackson event? What board are you going to have on your feet?
The Golden Orca baby. That’s the board. I’m probably going to size down to like 157. I normally ride a 161. But given the conditions, I might change things up.
You mentioned you were dropping a Natural Selection set of NFT’s? Please explain to us snowboard kind.
Yeah! I’m really excited to see these drop on the 25th of Jan. Been working really hard the past year to develop them. It’s a little jumping on the bandwagon, but we’re stoked for people to get involved. It’s all about building a strong community in new and creative ways.
So, for example on the 25th, we’re releasing this foundation token, it’s 15 bucks. And you can kind of think of it as almost like a membership buy. So you buy the $15 token, and you get access to a bunch of behind the scenes footage, insights you get priority on, further future key NST drops that we’ll have, and we’re dropping four different NFTs for the actual Jackson event.
Interesting!!! We’ll keep our eyes out for those and keep our readers informed on the launch.