The Natural Selection Tour has brought competitive backcountry snowboarding into a reality none of us ever dreamed was possible. Most of us have seen the live feeds, and revolutionary aerial follow camera work for which they are becoming famous. This stop in the tour had all of that but will be remembered more for the barbaric terrain Revelstoke provided. No one would have even considered the location for the event before this all went down. Now, looking back on it, it has become a new reality. It’s like: “Wow, ok. I guess we can do that now.” It was all with an insane amount of ambition and hard work that all came together perfectly. Everyone was at their best, from the riders to the entire production crew. Everyone was in some way on Travis Rice’s level.
The full live feed broadcast is linked here to watch again, as well as photos and a few notable questions answered below from none other than the brainchild behind the Natural Selection Tour, Mr. Travis Rice.
Special thanks to Revelstoke Mountain Resort for their generous hospitality.
Words and photos by Rob Lemay
Travis, Did you have a backup location?
Yeah, we had a couple. Because going into these things, we approach it from the realm of probability. It’s kind of a numbers game. We couldn’t have run that event without pretty perfect snow for riding pillows. If it was only boot-top deep, that wouldn’t have been the venue. You would’ve just bounced off those pillows. A lot of them wouldn't be rideable. I’m still tripping on how big that venue was compared to how big we thought it was. The main pillow line that I rode, I think everybody was looking at that line like: “Oh there’s something that’s a little friendlier.” When we actually did our warm-up run and got to cut underneath the face for scope day, I think it dawned on everyone, including myself, just how fucking big those things were.
This is the most challenging venue we've ever run, without a doubt, and the most dangerous because of the hazards. It's four and a half times the size of the Jackson stop and twice as long.
When you came down from your winning run, it sounded like you said: “That was for Craven.” At least, that’s what Todd Richards heard in the booth. What did you mean by that?
I said that because, I mean I didn’t get to see Craven’s first run, and the run that I beat him with - you’re always critical of your own riding and I didn’t think I was going to move on from the semis. I have full trust in our judging crew. They are as legit as it gets. I trust them, but all I was saying was that I was pretty certain Craven was going to try a big pillow line in that zone. Maybe even a meatier one that was right in the middle cause Craven is a madman and steps to fricken psycho stacks. And so, getting the advance into finals over Craven I felt inclined to go try one of the big stacks. It was a tribute to Craven. I was inspired by him and thinking that was probably what he would’ve gone and tried to step to.
Hearing Liam Griffin(NST COO) talk about losing sleep leading up to this event made me wonder, how was your stress leading up to it? Were you sleeping well, or having any nightmares? Or was it just another day for Travis?
I mean, it’s not as casual as just another day for me, but I don’t think I was having nightmares. It’s an interesting thing doing these events. I think you have to draw a little bit of a line emotionally around what things you have control over and what you don't. I think we try to focus on the things that we have control over and then if there are things that are out of our control that prevent us from successfully running an event, I honestly don’t get too hung up about it. I learnt a long time ago, I think filming taught me this for many years, it’s kind of like letting go of expectations and just being ready. Being fully prepared and ready, so if you do get the opportunity, you are able to seize it but not having expectations about an outcome. That being said, rolling into this event, we have control over being here, over being prepared to run it, our whole production team being capable and ready for the day if we get it to do the event. All of those things we have control over, yeah it’s a lot of work, Liam Griffin and our whole Natural Selection team, plus RF Wireless, plus Uncle Toad’s media group, everyone is doing their job very well to be prepared for, and you know what? If it happens, awesome. That’s a bonus. If it doesn’t happen, I still feel like we did something successful because we were ready. My expectations are just being ready and prepared.
Here's hoping for a rematch in Alaska.