Senior Gear Editor

The Inertia

The Natural Selection Tour Finals were broadcasted from Alaska today and featured some fairly jaw-dropping tricks and maneuvers from the best freestyle snowboarders in the world, performed in the giant, and unforgiving, arena of the Tordrillo Mountains. After two successful stops in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Baldface, British Columbia, the tour headed north to score deep Alaskan powder in the Tordrillo Mountains. When the dust (powder, rather) settled, Travis Rice and Hana Beaman emerged as the final event winners, and the Natural Selection Tour Overall Champions were crowned as well. And after three full events of competition, Elena Hight and Travis Rice took home overall titles.

Elena Hight Jackson Hole

Elena Hight going for broke at Jackson Hole. Photo: NST.Elena won the first event in Jackson, finished second at Baldface, and was edged out by Marion Haerty at the semis in Alaska. Her strong riding all the way through the tour carried her to the well-deserved NST championship, decided in a “Triple Crown” format where points from all three events (equally weighted) determined the winners.

Natural Selection Travis Rice Alaska

Travis, being Travis. Photo: NST.

On the other side, it was Travis’ truly insane performance in Alaska which earned him the overall NST win. Watching him take on the natural spines of the Tordrillo Mountains like a park at your local mom and pop resort was a thing of beauty. His event win there boosted him to the top of the leaderboard and in Alaska, it was really a wide-open race for the championship.


Not only did athletes have to battle it out among themselves for the crown, they had to survive snow camping in Alaska. Photo: NST.

Only eight men and four women from the Natural Selection field of athletes made it to the finals in Alaska, leaving a pared-down field of the best athletes on the tour to battle it out in the steep and unforgiving Tordrillo Mountains. It’s well known in the ski and snowboard community that Alaska just hits different, and even through a screen it was easy to see that the terrain the competitors were riding was on a different level.

The women’s side was a battle down to the wire. Hana Beaman and Marion Haerty went toe-to-toe in the final, with the challenging light proving itself to be the real opponent. On Hana’s first run she kept things simple, using it as a scouting mission, which paid off. Her second attempt was slow and steady in the flat light. But a few big maneuvers gave her the win.

Travis Rice NST Alaska

Travis in his natural element. Alaska, organizing a radical tour, and winning. Photo: NST.

On the men’s side, no one looked more in-form than event mastermind Travis Rice. On the day of the semi-finals, Travis laid down what the announcers described as “one of the best Alaskan snowboarding runs we’ve ever seen,” with three massive maneuvers, all performed flawlessly. Finals day saw him go up against Torstein Horgmo, and T Rice’s winning run on finals day was similarly inspiring, with the man’s speed, power, and flow on full display. That got Torstein fired up, and he dropped an insane combo at the beginning of his run, and it seemed certain he would unseat Travis until a patch of interesting terrain laid him low. With very poor light on the second run, it was Travis’ first attempt that sealed the deal.

Challenging conditions seem to have been the name of the game for any and all snowsports competitions this season. From unexpected snow at the Olympics, to an icy Corbet’s Couloir at Kings and Queens, to hardpack at the opening NST event in Jackson, it sure has been an interesting winter – the Natural Selection Tour Finals in the Tordrillo Mountains of Alaska were no exception. The snow could hardly have been better, but the light on finals day was not so friendly. After Travis Rice’s opening run, the clouds rolled in and it became near-impossible to pick out the subtle details in the terrain. “It was a heartbreak that we got iced out,” said Travis. “We’re just dancing on the great stage of Mother Nature. Sometimes she says ‘you’ve had enough.'”


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