Yes, you read that right. One of the most coveted titles in snowboarding history has just been awarded to Mikkel Bang from Norway and Robin Van Gyn from Canada. The Super Final in Alaska just wrapped up and it was mind blowing to say the least.
The Natural Selection Tour has stamped it’s name in all things snowboarding and it ain’t going anywhere. The event, which is the brain child of Travis Rice has injected so life in the competitive and freeride world of snowboarding.
Now, enough about how much we love Natural Selection and onto the two winners of the first ever Natural Selection tour. The Super Final that just went down in Alaska was their battleground and holy shit it was mind blowing, intimidating and mouth watering all at the same time.
We were lucky enough to chat to both Mikkel and Robin right after they won the event…
Transfer: Mikkel! Congratulations…how does it, how does it feel to win one of, if not the most coveted title in snowboarding?
Mikkel Bang: Yeah, it feels crazy. I kind of feel like I’m still soaking it in, you know. But when, like when I was down there and I got the trophy and everything, I definitely looked around and I shed a little tear, you know, whereas it’s like, wow, that was something I never experienced…ever.
How was the Jackson Hole event different to Alaska? Considering it wasn’t streamed live right there and then.
You didn’t know who you were going to go up against in Jackson before the event and making it through first round was kind of like the, the most important part in order to make it to the finals day. Then in Alaska, being four riders in AK and knowing that, you had a good chance of making it to the podium made you really want to win your first heat…because then it was straight into finals.
When I made it through the first heat then got back to the lodge I was talking to Ben, like, holy shit dude we’re in the finals. We were staying in the same room and we’re just like dude…we just landed on the podium and you know, it’s kind of a cool feeling, but then again, we had to be like, okay shit…who’s gonna take this thing out?
When was the last time you competed prior to Natural Selection?
I think it was eight years go. So it was, crazy just like all of a sudden coming back into it. I didn’t really know how it was going to deal with it, but I think just from competing for 12 years. I just naturally fell back into competing again…it wasn’t that strange, because I’ve done it so many times before.
Is Natural Selection here to stay? Are you back to defend your title next winter?
I’ve never had so much positive feedback ever on a competition before…people were so hyped.
Positive feedback from all around the world where, you know, people were just blown away and this event people can actually relate to it.
So yeah, I think it will be back and I’ll be back for sure.
Big shout out to Travis, for having the vision and having a goal and going for it and making it happen. I know he’s been working away for years to pull this off, so hats off to Travis.
Transfer: Robin! Congratulations on the win, solid effort! How does it feel?
Robin: I’m stoked! It’s definitely the highlight of my year, possibly my career. I don’t know. It’s incredible. Still soaking it all in…
You competed in all three stops on the tour…What was the Alaska event like compared to Jackson and Baldface?
Alaska is a completely different ball game, incomparable to anything else. They all had their own bit of difference, but Alaska was the true testing ground and perfect location to hold the finals.
You come from a predominately freeride background, not having competed much in the past. What was that like?
Yeah…this is all brand new for me. However, last year I knew that I was going to be the anomaly and it’s amazing field of competitive snowboarders, even those people who ride in the backcountry for the most part now, they’ve all competed at some point in time, minus the likes of Chris Rasman, Blake Paul and Austin Sweetin. I wanted to get a leg up and I actually went to a freeride event in Nelson, British Columbia last year to attempt to prepare myself for the contest tour. I think as snowboarders we’re all competitive by nature in someway though.
I had to really get into the comp mindset…So for me, it was more about, making sure that I had a clean, solid run and then improving from there.
I really liked it and feel like being competitive is what makes us progress and change and evolve over time
You’ve been filming video parts for over a decade now, is Natural Selection something that you’re going to continue to focus on now?
It was kind of a natural evolution for me to want to do Natural Selection and to want to win that, I think it’s really cool. I think it’s a challenge, that I really enjoyed as an athlete and I feel like that’s what keeps me in the game, is constantly learning and trying new things. So yeah, I’ll definitely continue focusing on the tour.
The Natural Selection Tour has changed the competitive landscape in snowboarding as we know it, what goes into pulling an event like this off?
I just really want to give Travis some love. He has had this vision for such a long time and has worked tirelessly with Liam, Carter and Circe and searching to try and pull this off and they did it, you know, and in possibly the worst timing and worst year ever, they still managed to complete the event in its entirety. And I’m just so grateful for them, for including me in the process and giving me the opportunity to compete on that platform.
Back next winter to defend your title?