Natural Selection Revelstoke — Laughing on the Face of Death.

  |   Stan Leveille

I think each and every one of us has snickered at the notion that the contest is called natural selection. As a play-on-words, pun junkie myself, I always savored the fact that such an official contest took on such a fun name.

In scientific terms of course, natural selection refers to the survival of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It’s a key process in the theory of evolution. And until this most recent iteration in Revelstoke, the name held a sort of distant, almost pun like meaning. But when I first flew over the pillow stack in a helicopter,  I gasped. “Holy shit, someone could actually die here.” I spoke it rather softly compared to whirling rotors into the microphone that protrudes from the over-the-ear headphone. The backset mic wasn’t hot, so I didn’t startle anyone when I said it. 

Though none of the riders would flat out say it-if anything from wanting to speak it into existence, you could see it in their face that the thought had crossed their mind too. It’s as if Travis Rice rode into the riders meeting on a tricycle with white face paint on and said in a deep voice, “wanna play a game.” 

It’s hard to argue that Travis Rice isn’t the main character in this whole story.  He has the air of an early 2000’s movie action sports star. And in an era where there is a discussion that snowboarding is going soft (albeit, maybe true) Travis Rice is doing his absolute best to wrench it in the polar opposite direction. It was a calculated move in providing a contest that was so extreme it was almost funny. Like a satire on what an extreme snowboard contest would look like. 

I think the endemic media have an annoying and repetitive rhetoric surrounding the stakes of any event. “This is the gnarliest jump, craziest contest” you know, bullshit like that. This was a rare look into something truly different, and though I was standing at the top of the course during it all, I think it translated on the screen.

Moments like Ben Ferguson scaling a catwalk over a massive wall, a deed that gave him the nickname “batman” by most of us after the event. Though it didn’t work out quite as he planned, it was truly the only way to take out Travis in the first round. Ben’s performance was undervalued I think by many. Or maybe just under-executed, but the strategy was one of the bravest I saw all Day. As Ben Would say later over beers, “you gotta out-rick the rick.” Here’s to trying.

Craven Battled the lines as well, Blake had moments of high-speed charging that were underscored by the judges, Jared Elston chose powerful lines, as did Elena Hight. Mikkel dropped into a tunnel and the whole field worried he would disappear.  Zoi Sadowski tried the first 720 of the day and once again showed her prowess. I think Hailey has what it takes to take out Zoi, but Zoi is wired for competition, and Hailey is easy going, which positively results in a flowing, easy to watch style. Elena Hight rode with power and had she just broken the seal on some freestyle, I think we might have seen her take the victory but for the most intensive understanding of what went down I really suggest you watch it. 

And of course contests like this don’t really go off without some judging debate. The biggest one probably being Dustin Craven and Travis Rice in the Semi Finals. And while I side with the notion that Craven had the better runs in Semi finals, Travis kind of shut us all the fuck up in finals by doing two lines that only travis could do. At the end of the day, Travis continues to steam ahead as he aims to promote everyone being gnarly. It’s like his dominant trait in the process of Natural Selection that he is using to weed out the field. Will the others catch up? I reckon Alaska will be the next test. 


The Skylink setup as set up by Liam Griffen.

The warming tent and viewing screen for the riders. Located at 7,000 feet.

POV: You are about to be called Ryan Seacrest by Ed Leigh.

Scouting before the contest day

Looking for a needle in a pillowstack

Serious question. IS Travis rice a werewolf?

Switch method stretch in the start gate. Scares opponents 100% of the time.

Ben Before going full Batman.

Mikkel shadow boxes before dropping.

Torstein, visualizing.

All hail the Kootenay King. Dustin Craven.

Blake Paul prepares for battle.

The classic pre-line phone stare from Jared Elston in the warming tent.

Oh shit, nevermind he's looking at an inspiring photo of his opponent.

The face Mike Cicarelli makes when Future Islands is playing.

"Wait it's my birthday?"

"it's her birthday I'll make her cry if I want to." - Hailey

Kimmy's return.

Ben Ferguson and Kimmy share a hug before her first run.

Elena Hight is all smiles.

The face you make after falling into a hole.

the core battle.


Roomates, competitors, friends. Their room faced the aprés scene so they kind of lived in it.

Russ chai was not in the official contest, but is for sure in the contest of worst photos I took all week.

New York Times reporter, and my roommate during the whole event, Matt Ruby interviewing Bryan Fox.

Aaron Blatt, ladies and gentlemen.

Judge Bryan Fox fraternizing with the winner.

Meeks in his natural habitat.

Sam Taxwood came to celebrate and hit the Kootenay Beanie sag.

Raibu Katayama also came to hang.

And teach us more about Koncho.

Quintessential Travis Rice, post event bar speach

Dance party popped off at the Mac

the after after party