Natural Selection Tour—Jackson Hole Course Sneak Peek
Words: Pat Moore
Photos: Ben Gavelda
It’s pretty incredible to see the amount of effort that is going into the Natural Selection Tour. The production’s sheer amplitude was overwhelming to witness, even just for one week. Specifically, the build crew had been enhancing the compelling terrain of Jackson Hole’s Washakie Glade for the last two summers, constructing perfect take-offs and subsequent landings that will surely be the main focus of the events’ riding. The impressive appearance of these structures were even more intriguing when you got up close and personal. A mix of organic materials like downed logs and stone were tied into dimensional lumber holding everything together not only upright, but in place on the steep hillside. Each feature was cleverly constructed with the elements at hand and retrofitted into places only real snowboarders would be able to envision. Good thing much of the employed build crew are fully capable riders themselves, priming each takeoff and landing not only for the event, but also for their personal gain.
The rider’s build week intended to offer the opportunity for potential Natural Selection invitees to give input and design feedback prior to the event. For many, the idea of shaping the slope through summer landscaping was a new concept, but an exciting one. The crew quickly took to trundling rock, falling trees and grasping the foresight to predict how layers of snow will settle. Respect emphatically flowed from the riders to the landscapers as features were pieced together in foreign ways. There were no simple setups, and the professional hands deemed invaluable to the cast of riders.
The week flew by, hosted by the omnipotent Travis Rice, each day was jam-packed with morning activities, course work, and evening activities, with event meetings sprinkled in. Rice’s energy was unmatched, and the incredible effort being witnessed on hill was paralleled by the work behind the scenes. Throughout his hosting of the rider week, Rice would break off for meetings with his assembled crew of event incumbents, Liam Griffin and Carter Westfall. They would tackle sponsor calls, resort meetings, Covid protocols, event logistics, and everything in-between. Speaking to the catalyst of the Natural Selection endeavor, Rice offered candidly his vision of a series that progresses and benefits the entire community of snowboarding. Feeling it is needed and warranted, he sits on a very short list of names capable of assembling such a Goliath of projects. He welcomes the work and humbly attributes the tour’s success as a family affair already proven by the love and care of everyone involved.
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