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The Inertia

Whether it’s filming an award-award winning movie or putting on a show-stopping competition, Travis Rice has a knack for bringing in the right people to make things epic. He has more pull in the snowboarding world than any brand, or event, at this point. That’s because he’s built a powerful cachet after pulling off huge competitions and film productions himself by gathering the perfect mixture of riders together to make the experience for viewing incredible – not to mention his own abilities often steal the show. The Natural Selection Tour, which starts today at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, is no exception. Rice has done it again — gathering an equal mix of star power, up-and-comers, stalwarts, and a few interesting choices to make it must-see TV (again). Here’s a look at who’s competing.

 

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The Competitive Kids (Mark McMorris, Hailey Langland, Jamie Anderson, Ben Ferguson, Anna Gasser, Sage Kotsenburg, Zoi Sadowski, Elena Hight)

Whether you’re a pro or a casual weekender, at some point you’ve likely heard of this group, whether it was the Olympics or the X Games. Speaking of the X Games, Jamie Anderson, fresh off of a few X Games medals, will be dropping into Natural Selection along with a slew of other riders who recently retired from formal competition (Elena Hight, Ben Ferguson, and Sage Kotsenburg), and others who are in the thick of their competitive careers (Hailey Langland, Anna Gasser, Mark McMorris, Zoi Sadowski-Synott).

While McMorris is the only one to drop into a Natural Selection-esque venue before (he competed in Ultra Natural in 2013), these riders are bringing a bag of tricks that’s a bit more stuffed than the rest of field. But the big question is this: will it translate to the natural takeoffs/landings of the venue?

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The Wildcards (Werni Stock, Marion Haerty, Blake Paul)

These might not be household names in the world of snowboarding but the Naty Select might change that. Seriously, any of these athletes could take the top spot. Blake Paul made his mark on the industry when he dropped PULP, showcasing a unique blend of style, trickery, and creativity that few in the snowboarding industry can match.

Werni Stock got his start in the competitive scene and made a name for himself at Air + Style events, but he quickly transitioned to filming with the Pirates crew and his propensity to go huge and throw big tricks gave him a well-earned spot in this year’s Natural Selection — with a bag of tricks in the backcountry like his, it seems a bit odd to call him a wild card.

Last but not least is Marion Haerty. She could have been grouped with the competitive kids but she comes with a bit more of a mountaineering-ish background having grown up charging the French Alps. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t go big. One of the most decorated athletes on the Freeride World Tour, she brings a refined competitive skillset when it comes to big mountain riding that nobody else in the competition has (she’s won the FWT three times), making her a legitimate contender. You might have never heard her name, but tune in when she drops.

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The Stalwarts (Travis Rice, Bode Merrill, Chris Rasman, Eric Jackson, Elias Elhardt, Hana Beaman, Pat Moore, Nils Mindich, Mikkel Bang, Robin Van Gyn, Victor de Le Rue)

Without a doubt, this group has made a name for themselves when it comes to throwing down in the backcountry, and they all bring something different. Chris Rasman might be one of the best aerialists in the game, while Pat Moore has probably stomped more switch back 9’s than any rider on the tour. Robin Van Gyn is widely regarded as one of the best female big mountain riders out there and  Hana Beaman stands as the old guard with a career of groundbreaking video parts to prove it. To round out this crew is all-around snowboard Jedi and overall winner of last year’s Freeride World Tour, Victor de Le Rue, along with a slew of other heavy hitters (Rice of course).

Rice’s power to bring such a diverse group of riders together is absolutely unparalleled (I’d argue in any sport). Now we just get to sit back and watch it all go down. It’s sure to be entertaining.

Tune in to the first day of the Natural Selection Tour live from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort today at 9:30 A.M. MST on Red Bull TV.

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