Words: Chas Smith / Lodge Grit
The final day of Natural Selection will run tomorrow morning, February 9th (10th in Aus), at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The snow, exquisite after many days of snow and some wind filling in the course, leaving it deep and pristine save a few ski patrol tracks.
It is a fine course, without doubt, and to see it in person is to understand that it is a dreamy playground, yes, but also a torturous mind game. There are features here, there, everywhere and, for the professional snowboarder, what do you do with all that variety?
All those options?
For a surf journalist, the choice would be simple. Carve around every feature whilst pretending it looks very stylish, smooth, even enviable.
But for the professional snowboarder, who knows dodging the best bits is only embarrassing, pure torment.
Natural Selection, Day 1, saw a handful of the first riders overwhelmed and following all too similar lines.
Now that half the field is gone, and the remaining half have ridden not once, but twice, I feel a different, more aggressive kick-off.
Over lunch at the Four Seasons, Travis Rice was asked by big-wave surfer Ian Walsh if he completely satisfied with the course or, having seen it in action, wishes he did anything different.
Travis thinks for a moment and says, “I would have added more.”
Thankfully, I did not hear what he ordered and got myself a southwestern fried chicken wrap featuring flour tortilla, b&b pickles, apple jicama slaw, cilantro and chipotle aioli with sweet potato fries instead of regular and a side of ranch which was a little too fancy.
Ranch is supposed to be watery and cheap, made from a packet and not featuring bespoke mint.
Still, a solid offering, certainly better than whatever Travis threw.
But who do you have for tomorrow morning? Travis or Mark McMorris? This is where professional snowboarding, along with professional surfing, fails. Our world’s should own sport’s betting. Our heroes much more interesting than horses or Tom Brady.
I rode with Mark for a few short minutes, or rather my young daughter did with me trailing far behind. He looked ok. She looked better. You can take that little scoop to your bookie and see what sort of odds you can get.
Tomorrow is upon us.