Mother Nature turned it ON for the final day of the YETI Natural Selection at Jackson Hole with over four-feet of snow falling ahead of today’s finals.
It was Mark McMorris and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott who took out the historic the even win, with both riders pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in freeride snowboarding. What a beauty to cross disciplines every now and then.
It was heated and absolutely on from run one with eight men going head-to-head. Ben Ferguson put down a 90.3 run advancing him through quarterfinals against snowboard legend Sage Kotsenburg , and then met hometown hero Blake Paul in the semi-finals to earn his place in the finals.
Mark McMorris had some serious pressure on him for run one, having to take down the titan that is Travis Rice, and then taking on the king of style and backcountry god Mikkel Bang to advance into the finals.
The sun came out and shone light on the amphitheater as McMorris and Ferguson battled in the finals—the former a slopestyle champion, the latter halfpipe, both established backcountry riders. McMorris took the lead in the first round and held onto the lead despite an incredible showing from Ferguson. McMorris’ runs showcased his slopestyle tricks with style and bedrock consistency in a big mountain venue. McMorris flowed through his finals runs linking up a Double Wildcat, Cab 900, enviable powder turns, and, of course, a method salute. Ferguson answered back with runs heavy on switch riding including a Cab Underflip and a backside 900 off the Great Wall, nailing a heavy switch landing. But it was McMorris who took the win. A battle for the ages.
McMorris claimed that “This win is the biggest that I’ve had in years—when all your peers care about an event, you know it means something. This is the true essence of snowboarding—freeriding with freestyle components.”
The women’s semi-finals field featured four women, with 19-year-old Kiwi and favourite Zoi Sadowski-Synnott advancing against local favorite Hana Beaman, while Marion Haerty advanced past Elena Hight .
The two women’s finalists couldn’t have more different backgrounds, with Haerty coming into the competition as the three-time Freeride World Tour champion and Sadowski-Synnott with Olympic big air and X Games slopestyle and big air medals to her name. Sadowski-Synnott dominated both finals runs, with her second run a victory lap, where she put down the day’s highest score and best overall run of the event on our eyes, with a huge Wildcat, a stomped backside 360 interspersed with pow turns and grabs all the way down the face, taking out the win and landing the Visit Jackson Hole Run of the Day.
Sadowski-Synnott, who earned a last-minute entry via a Wildcard slot, says, “Three weeks ago I didn’t even know I was going to be here! I never expected to be competing in Natural Selection, and then to come away with the win definitely means so much to me.” She adds, “I was just so honored to ride with my favorite snowboarders. I’ve learned a lot about riding pow and landing. This is how snowboarding really is and there’s finally an event that shows that. I can’t wait to come back next year!
Rice, the visionary behind the Natural Selection Tour, says, “Today’s event was everything that we envisioned. There was definitely just an extra level of joy in being able to have the conditions that we did, the rider field that we did, and, honestly pulling this event off in the current climate, that alone was a feat.” But, in true Rice fashion, he’s already looking ahead, “I really think this is just the beginning. I’m just really excited for the future.”
Next up, the Natural Selection Tour will advance to the Bronco Sport Natural Selection at Baldface Lodge, February 28–March 7, on the Bronco Sport “Road to Alaska.” Yes you read that right… BALDFACE LODGE IS NEXT UP!
The Tour will end on a bang at the HempFusion Natural Selection at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge in Alaska, March 20–27. There a select amount of riders from this event will be crowned and the winners will take home big prize money and a Bronco Sport. Whipped up.