Behind the Build with Dustin Craven | YETI Natural Selection Revelstoke

24 of the world's best snowboarders are in Revelstoke for the final events of the YETI Natural Selection Tour. The on-hill Revelstoke semi final event goes live Wednesday, March 13th, at noon PST on a venue that Dustin Craven designed and built alongside his friends over the summer months. Taking down trees and building platforms to launch off, eyeballing distances and hoping the most talented (and particular) snowboarders will be satisfied when the snow falls. We caught up with Dustin Craven to hear about the process and the line he's nervous about. 

Winners of the YETI Natural Selection will be revealed during the April 4th broadcast exclusively on Red Bull TV.

Photos by Chad Chomlack

Tell me about the process of putting the course together.

There were three to six of us up there working for 11 weeks. We started in mid-July and then finished when it started raining too hard. The slope is anywhere from 35 to 55 degrees in the middle, so it's quite steep. It was really challenging work. We gladed it and put manufactured pads in. The trees that we cut and fell got cut in half and boarded. We basically made these into helipads [on slope]. The idea was to make them all six to eight feet tall, which is our normal snowpack. And now they are just pillows. It was like 3,500 hours of manpower. And a lot of time on the chainsaw, which was a cool experience to learn how to do all that. 

A good summer gig working with your friends?

All my friends. Yeah, side by side out there. It's just off the ski hill, out of everyone's way. We pulled 40 features and two venues, two different drop-ins. And I think we'll keep working next summer to try and open up the middle and keep adding to the venue. If you ask a lot of people, there are too many trees up there right now. Someone's going to hit a tree probably.

Have you been riding it already?

I never have. But these runs were just open, so people were up there riding it all the time.

How different does it look from working on it in the summer and during the winter? Did it pan out the way that you guys expected?

It was close enough. I think the hardest part is as a human in work boots, you think a distance is pretty big, but once I got on my snowboard and started looking at a distance, some of it is a little small. Yeah. That was the only thing. Thinking "oh, I should have built that 30 feet back", but in the summer looking at it, there's no way to tell.

And at this point you've ridden almost all of the Natural Selection venues from the past. How does this one compare?

This one's a mixture. I would say this Revelstoke course is kind of gnarly in some spots with pig pillows and stuff, but more like Baldface. It's got a playful side. And one side that's gnarlier, so it should be super hard to judge.

Hard to judge. Do you think the judges are already stressing?

Oh, yeah. The Internet's going to have a heyday.

Do you feel added pressure or added excitement that it's in your backyard?

I feel excited. I mean, obviously, I technically kind of cheated by building it, gave myself a leg up...

Somebody had to build it. Better you who understands how it's going to be ridden. 

Yeah, totally. It all works, and everyone's stoked. I've shared as much information as I can with everyone. I mean, it doesn't matter if I was there in the summer or not. I'm still nervous. I'm going for a line that I think is nuts.

Even with all of that time spent on the slope, you're still nervous? 

I'm scared of it because it's never been ridden. We roped in and cut trees out of these big spine lines, so they're all first descents. There's no beta, which is always really cool.

How rad is it to have Revelstoke embrace all of this?

It was awesome that RMR stepped up so much. Inviting the contest and putting up the athletes. It's refreshing to have a resort that's 100% on board and truly making a big push with it.

If you don't take it home for Canada who will?

Mikey Ciccarelli is my dark horse.

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