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Baldface hosts world’s top riders at second stop of Natural Selection Tour

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
February 21st, 2022

Baldface Lodge near Nelson is hosting 14 of the world’s best snowboarders for the second stop of the Natural Selection Tour, the TAE Natural Selection, beginning Monday at the mountain-based resort.

The brainchild of snowboarder Travis Rice and shared vision with the broader snowboarding community, the Natural Selection Tour showcases the world’s top riders from Olympians to big mountain film icons all competing on the planet’s most exciting natural enhanced terrain.

“Having the right terrain for a the specific needs of this event is an important component, but even more important than that is the relationship to symbiotically pull off an event of this scale,” said Travis Rice, pro snowboarder and founder of the Natural Selection Tour.

“What Jeff Pensiero and the entire Baldface team has accomplished over the past few decades is really impressive and the authenticity that comes with bringing thousands of gas out to celebrate responsible backcountry usage. Baldface has stayed true to the culture, supporting snowboarding‘s progression. We’re thrilled to be back.”

During the TAE Natural Selection at Baldface contest window, February 21-27, riders will also be competing in the new Selection Sessions head-to-head matchups during “down” days at Baldface Lodge.

The top half of the pack, eight men and four women, coming out of the YETI Natural Selection at Jackson Hole will head north to ride the iconic terrain of every snowboarder’s dreams at Baldface Lodge, British Columbia during the last week of February.

From diverse snowboarding backgrounds — ranging from halfpipe and slopestyle riders, to dedicated big mountain freeriders, to backcountry freestyle riders including on the women’s side Hana Beaman (USA) Elena Hight (USA) Marion Haerty (FRA) and Robin Van Gyn (CAN) and for the men Jared Elston (USA), Dustin Craven (CAN), Torstein Horgmo (NOR), Sage Kotsenburg (USA), Ben Ferguson (USA), Mikkel Bang (NOR), Blake Paul (USA) and Travis Rice (USA). 

At Baldface Lodge, the top half of finishers from Jackson will be joined by 2021 YETI Natural Selection at Jackson Hole winners Mark McMorris (CAN) and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL), who have been invited to rejoin the tour following their Olympic bids. 

“It’s good to have all the international athletes back on our turf and to have this level of riding back on our terrain is gratifying,” said Dustin Craven, pro snowboarder competing in the Natural Selection from Revelstoke. 

“The course is steep and allows you to have someone that is a good jump rider and good line rider together and have a course that is challenging for both.”

In 2022, the riders will be competing on Scary Cherry, which was home to the Red Bull Supernatural (2012) and Red Bull Ultra Natural (2013). It is a freerider’s dream with 80 massive natural and wooden drops, kickers and other features spread throughout the famously powder-coated, 40°-plus slope.

Baldface Lodge, set in British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains outside of Nelson, is a snowboarding mecca with 500+ inches of annual snowfall laid across 32,000 acres of open bowls, peaks and perfectly spaced trees. The winners at the Tour’s second stop will take home a brand new 2023 Ski-Doo snowmobile. 

"More than ten years have passed since we originally designed this Scary Cherry venue at Baldface with a team of visionary snowboarders,” said Jeff Pensiero, co-owner of Baldface.

“The sport has surely come a long way in the past decade and it's going to be exciting to continue the evolution of this format and the sport. I can't wait to see what goes down at Natural Selection (this) week."

New this year, the Natural Selection Tour will be using a Triple Crown-style format to determine the overall Tour Champion. In this format, each stop of the Tour will have equal weighting and a stand-alone winner.

The points will be tallied by finish at each stop:

  • First place = 1 point 
  • Second place = 2 points
  • Third place = 3 points

The rider with the lowest score at the conclusion of the three stops will be the overall Natural Selection Tour Champion. So hypothetically, if a competitor places third in Jackson, first in BC, and fifth in AK that rider’s final combined score would be nine (3+1+5). If a tie happens, the Championship tie-breaker is based on which rider had the better finish in the final event in Alaska.

TAE Technologies, the world’s leading developer of clean fusion, just signed a three-year partnership with the Natural Selection Tour (NST).

Just as the Natural Selection Tour is on a mission to inspire a deeper relationship with Mother Nature, TAE is working to develop clean, carbon-free energy solutions that preserve the beauty of the outdoors for generations to come. 

“NST and TAE are perfectly aligned in our mission to reduce carbon emissions and address the challenges of climate change,” said Jim McNiel, Chief Marketing Officer at TAE Technologies.

“TAE is forging the path to perfect power by focusing first on improved energy efficiency, and ultimately on the development of carbon-free, non-radioactive fusion energy. We intend to support NST’s mission to celebrate the great outdoors and the achievements of their great athletes while reducing our carbon footprint. We are thrilled to be members of the rapidly expanding NST family.”

From Baldface, the top eight men and top four women will head north to Alaska for the Natural Selection in the Tordrillo Mountains, the Tour’s third and final stop, where the tour champions — the best all-mountain male and female freestyle riders on the planet — will ultimately be crowned.

In the Tordrillos they face off on arguably one of the best venues on the planet for riders to push the boundaries of big mountain, freestyle riding. 

The three-plus hour contest will run "as live" on on March 16, starting at 9 a.m. PT. Near the end of the broadcast, the winners will be announced.

Revelstoke’s Dustin Craven prepares to throw a rock during the opening ceremonies of the Natural Selection TourSaturday at the Nelson Curling Club while fellow pro riders Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, Hana Beaman and Ben Ferguson watch.

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