Travis Rice on... The Natural Selection.

[Photo: Tim Zimmerman.]

For Day 6 of Travis Rice week, we asked the Jackson native to give us the lowdown on his innovative hometown contest – The Quiksilver Natural Selection. Can you explain the premise of the event, for those who don’t know?

- The premise of the event is basically it’s an all mountain snowboarding competition and there’s 2 venues: 1 venue is kinda like an all natural slopestyle course, and the way we did it is it’s in this kinda natural gully that runs about 2,000 feet, kinda one of our favourite places to ride in Jackson, and we were able to close down the entire run about 10 days prior to the competition. We closed down the whole run and then I had my own crew of about 10 guys and we went through and basically used the natural lay of the land to build all these hits where we’d ride in jumps any other year but we were actually able to build good clean takeoffs into natural landings. And we built about 12 of these combined with the fact that it also crossed a cat track halfway through. And basically we finished building it all and closed it all off and just let it snow, and then we ended up getting like 4 or 5 feet on the course for the day the comp went down. We ran this production through Brain Farm and Curt did all the logistics and we actually ran a slider cam [down the whole course; we hired a big crew, Curt brought it out, I think it was the longest set they’d ever done. It was really difficult, it was snowing the entire time they were setting up, having to deal with not being able to walk around the course… there were a lot of challenging aspects to it. Yeah, we weren’t able to hold the competitions on a sunny day, we had a 7 day riding window, you know, so riders were there for 8, 9 days and 7 days of that we could throw the competition at any moment. So that’s the general premise for that first Dick’s Ditch competition.

And how did you go about picking riders for that? Was it similar to the film, guys that you really wanted to go riding with? Or was there something else involved as well?

- It was definitely partly that, yeah. A lot of it came down to just, basically, the riders who excel at that kind of riding. You know and it was cool to actually bring out some guys who don’t do contests as well. To bring out like Bjorn, to bring out DCP… we had such an epic list of riders. A big priority of mine was rider hospitality and everything. To be able to bring them out, have them comfortable, be able to pay them for the time to come out… basically just a perfect set up to bring out. And then we were able to engage the local community too a bunch, being able to throw a couple raging parties and ended up hiring 20 locals over the course of 2 weeks basically to get everything together.

And then the other competitions was at Caspar Bowl and it was more about big mountain, kinda like a big mountain freeride contest, and had this great venue which is about 2,000 feet long, a bunch of cliffs and various terrain within it. And we like closed it down for like 10 days, we got like 4 or 5 feet in there for the competition and it finally broke bluebird sun on the day of the event. I think I got a lot of insight just from being for a couple of years at the Arctic Challenge, seeing how they ran it, and being able to have it more generalised as a riders’ vote, and certain other aspects. So we kinda decided before it to traverse in and check out the bowl, we packed out a couple of hits but I didn’t really build much in there. So, yeah, that was the general consensus for that competition and the whole judging format of it was kinda overall impression, creativity, style, fluidity and we had some legendary judges out as well. We had Tom Burt, he was our head judge. We had Jamie Lynn, we had Ichihawa from Japan, a guy Dustin Vargner who’s kinda a legendary Jackson Hole snowboarder. I was an awesome contest.

What was the feedback like from the riders and others?

- Awesome man. From Quiksilver, to the mountain itself, to all the riders that came, to even a lot of the locals… I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to feel about shutting down the areas on the mountain. But the riders especially. I had a lot of people come up and tell me that it was like hands down the best contest they’d ever been too. So to hear that from people that I look up to more than most anybody… I was stoked. Also hearing the input from the ski patrol, coming to me and being like “man I don’t know what it is that you did or do,” but like they were blown away that the courses didn’t get poached. Cause basically Jackson Hole’s all about poaching anything. Anything with a rope on it gets poached. That’s the mentality of the local Jackson Hole community you know. If there’s good snow on the other side of the rope, well gawd damn it we’re gonna shred it. Having it closed for that many days and nobody poached the course was I think one of the most humbling things for me.

More tomorrow…

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