Stop two of The Natural Selection Tour is officially underway. It’s a pretty sealed tight operation this week – filmers, riders and staff only. The snowboarding world will witness all the glory that is stop two on March 19 where the winners will be crowned and sent directly into the fiery pits of heaven or hell for some…Alaska. This will kick off March 20 through to the 27th. YES.
This week, it’s all about stacking clips. As many banger worthy clips as possible to a secure a spot on tour stop number three. Who’s been invited to rip and ride Baldface’s newly acquired tenure Valhalla. Some of British Columbia’s finest. Meet the crew…
When it comes to backcountry snowboarding, Beau Bishop is one of the most prolific riders that our neighbor to the north has ever produced. While restoring timber homes in and around the Whistler area in the summer, as soon as the snow starts to fall, Beau hops on his sled and disappears into the endless backcountry to stack clips. Usually, there’s a POV camera attached to him and he releases his viral “Point of Beau” series weekly, but the shots from afar of Beau make it into the yearly efforts of The Manboys. Beau has an endless trick list, incredible style and a vast knowledge of the backcountry and he’s been doing it for a long time now. Knowledge, experience and talent is what will make Beau a threat on the second leg of the Natural Selection Tour film shoot.
When Chris Rasman’s name comes up in general snowboarding conversation, it usually ends with one word: Power. Rasman is a rock solid rider and his years of experience in the vast abyss of the Whistler backcountry is evident in everything that he does. From building perfect kickers into seemingly endless powder landings, to manhandling his sled en route to the zones, Rasman’s notorious Whistler crew is appropriately named, “The Manboys.” Said gentlemen have been terrorizing the zones in and around Whistler for years now. Their film edits take the internet by storm due to the sheer size of the features that they choose to hit, Rasman being a strong vertebrae in the Manboys’ backbone.
Rasman is as consistent as it gets and he knows nearly every trick in the book, and those are precisely the talking points that make him a serious contender.
You may be very familiar with Craig McMorris in a studio setting hosting the X Games and many of Red Bull’s proprietary events, but if you’ve been a fan of snowboarding for a long time, you know that Craig wears multiple hats, and is also world-class rider with multiple X Games Real Snow appearances as a rider rather than an announcer. Craig can do it all, from street sessions to backcountry stepdowns and his propensity for going huge is complimented by his ability to stomp any and everything he sends. A character both on and off the hill, Craig is all-around entertainment and is sure to create some amazing content up at Baldface Valhalla the first week of March.
In the mid-2000s, a young, energetic kid emerged onto the international scene from Calgary and started to pop up onto the radar as a hell-for-leather, send-anything ripper. His name was Dustin Craven and his exploits at events like Snowboarder Magazine’s Superpark were always standout, but it wasn’t until he disappeared into the backcountry at the start of every winter only to emerge with insane footage every spring that he cemented his status as one of the world’s best backcountry riders. Craven’s aptitude is documented in films like Union’s Stronger, CAPiTA’s First Kiss and TransWorld Snowboarding’s Kamikazu were instant classics and he’s still going strong on BC’s endless array of pillows, cliffs and pat downs. If the Valhalla video shoot at Natural Selection is about putting down the most intriguing and unique line, then Craven is a surefire favorite to be a true contender.
Fluidity, form and power. That’s how to best describe Mark Sollors’ riding. From the streets to the backcountry, nobody does it like Sollors. As a lifelong member of the Burton Snowboards family, Sollors’ ascension in snowboarding came through their team releases and propelled him into the Rookie of the Year spot at TransWorld’s Rider’s Poll and in the years to come, Mark landed on SNOWBOARDER Magazine’s Top Ten Riders of the Year list. More recently, Mark has been filming with the legendary Whistler crew The Powderhounds with fellow friends and longtime backcountry partners Mikey Rencz and Mikkel Bang and his demure, relaxed personality shines through in his effortless style while riding. Sollors is one of the greats and when considering success in one’s backcountry career, he’s impossible to not consider one of the favorites up in BC.
If time spent in the backcountry is any indication of a pro snowboarder’s career, then Whistler’s Mikey Rencz is a first ballot Hall of Famer. There is arguably no one who has logged the time off the trail that Mikey has, and it’s evident in his riding year after year. Consistency, style and strength are what he exudes every time he drops in. As a young kid, Mikey was picked up by Burton and elevated rapidly up the ladder of professional snowboarding but at a certain point, Mikey focused all of his efforts on sledding and shredding and started to put out banger backcountry parts in Burton’s yearly releases. Since then, he’s become the unofficial mayor of Whistler and its surrounding peaks and landed himself in the top ten of SNOWBOARDER’s annual Rider of the Year list. On top of being one of the nicest humans you’ll ever encounter, Mikey is one of the most naturally talented snowboarders alive and it’ll be exciting to watch the line that Mikey puts down and submits for the Baldface Valhalla stop of the Natural Selection Tour.
Spencer O’Brien is hard to describe in a simple paragraph, due to the fact that she has accomplished so much in her career. She is the type of snowboarder that wants to dominate the contest scene as well as push the boundaries outside of the boundaries in the backcountry. Spencer’s slopestyle resumé is ridiculous. A gold medal at X Games in 2016, a silver in 2009 and three bronze medals, as well as representing Team Canada at the Winter Olymics in Sochi, Russia and she’s landed on podiums at every major snowboard competition in the world. Oh, and did we mention she was the first to land a backside 900 in competition? But more recently, Spencer has been taking her jumping skills into the backcountry and stepping to enormous terrain and looks to have her sights set on advancing her ever-impressive career in the backcountry. Spencer is a true talent and will be one to watch at Baldface Valhalla.
Robin Van Gyn:
British Columbia plays host to some of the most incredible snow and terrain on earth, so it’s no surprise that it also breeds some of the world’s best backcountry riders, and Robin Van Gyn is no exception. Her eye for potential in the mountains is second-to-none, her education of snow safety and stability is PhD-worthy, and her incredible career in the mountains includes several years as a tail guide at the world-renowned Baldface Lodge.
Robin’s skill, style and poise in the backcountry have earned her numerous accolades in snowboard culture. We would recommend watching Runaway Films’ “Full Moon” and Quiksilver’s 2017 film “Depth Perception,” where Robin lays waste to some of the gnarliest lines of the winter and took home back-to-back Trans World Snowboarding Video Part Of The Year honors for it.
Leanne Pelosi is arguably one of the most influential backcountry riders in history. Coming up in the flatlands of Calgary, Leanne was first introduced as a street rider, with mind-blowing clips coming out every fall but it wasn’t until she stepped off the beaten path and into the backcountry that she truly showed how talented she is. Once Leanne got into the powder, it unlocked her true potential, but the turn in Leanne’s career from pro to luminary came when she founded Runway Films, an all-female film crew and it culminated with their 2016 release, “Full Moon,” which featured Leanne alongside the best female riders in the world and the movie changed the game. Throughout her career, she has been featured in every publication’s Rider of the Year lists and produced some of the best video parts known to date. Leanne is über adept, naturally talented and very knowledgeable in the backcountry, which means that she is a legitimate threat to take the top spot in BC.
Marie-France Roy is hands-down one of the most influential backcountry riders of her generation. Calling Quebec City, Canada home, Marie-France Roy came up on the east coast as a park and rail rider who could hang at every session, but she quickly made the pilgrimage west to Whistler in search of deeper snow and a bigger connection to the Mother Nature. From there, Marie-France Roy exploded onto the scene in films by TransWorld Snowboarding, Arbor and Runway Films, and quickly became known by the acronym MFR. It’s the efforts that she made in her video parts that won her Transworld Snowboarding Rider of the Year and Video Part of the Year in 2015 as well as taking home ROTY honors for Snowboarder Magazine as well. In that same year, Marie-France also put out her own film, titled The Little Things, in which she was awarded the Climate Activist Award by Protect Our Winters. Marie-France is an incredible backcountry rider and she is very in tune with what the mountains are telling her. We are very excited to have her involved and to see her ride at Valhalla.