Travis Rice – Red Bull Supernatural

After ‚The Art of Flight‘, Travis didn’t stop on doing what he does. The Red Bull Supernatural, will be a completely new sort of snowboard contest, mixing ‚both worlds‘ of snowboarding: Natural terrain and park features. You imagine the whole thing like a massive giant ‚Stash‘ thing, just wider and bigger. Over the last years Travis has been looking for the perfect spot, for this kind of contest. The right length of the runs, the right location concerning altitude for right weather conditions and everything and finally found it. In interior golden BC, Canada ..or to be more precise in Baldface is the place where you want to be between February 2nd and 9th. Ovr a mile long run, with over a hundred sick features and Pillow-lines and everything, Travis and the crew built during this summer. Baldface has also a deeper significance for snowboarding’s history, was it passed legend Craig Kelly to find this spot back then, where today a statue as a tribute to Craig stands to memorize. The Red Bull Supernatural will host around twenty of the world’s best riders to compete and hopefully pave the way for another milestone in snowboarding, with a new contest format which will grow in the long run.

Snowboarding right now is broken into two sectors. You have the youth: the progressive and talented up-and-comers who are doing the most incredible things on the contest and jib side; and you have the film stars: the guys who have been in the game for years, who started on a freestyle platform, but have moved in a more backcountry-focused direction. Sometimes contest guys will try to film between events, and occasionally film guys will do a contest. But when it comes down to it, the two worlds are pretty segregated.

The beauty of snowboarding is how diverse and multifaceted it is, but right now there’s not enough cross-pollination going on. One of the goals of Supernatural is to bridge this gap. The two groups have a lot to teach each other — they need to be brought together. At the end of the day, the best snowboarders out there are the ones who can do it all.

My first attempt at this idea was the Natural Selection contest, which went down four years ago in Jackson Hole. That event was a breakthrough, but it was the beta version. From there we really took a step back in order to assess how we could move forward differently. So I’ve been working on this event concept for three years.

The first challenge was finding the right location. We scoured everywhere, trying to find the perfect place with the best chance of pulling the contest off. Finally we found an amazing run at Baldface, which is a cat-skiing operation in the interior of British Columbia that has a deep-rooted history in snowboarding: Craig Kelly helped find the original tenure that Baldface sits on. Baldface has really played a huge part in this event coming together. Without the hard work of owner Jeff Pensiero and the whole staff and crew, the event would not be happening this year. Between Red Bull Media House, Baldface, and our logging crew, she came together out of love.

The last two winters we examined the contest site, trying to figure out the logistics. This spring we got the project green-lit by Red Bull, so we went in, spent a number of weeks walking and setting the course with our foreman Lee Usher, who also used to be the lead guide at Baldface. Then we hired the most bada–, strapping, British Columbian lumberjack crew. These guys are professional arborists. They spent four months climbing 40 feet up in trees with chainsaws, using hoist and pulley systems to get lumber up on-hill to build the course features.

Danny ZapalacEnlarged photo of the Supernatural venue. The hashmark area there is where the 200-foot-wide kicker is going.

By features, I mean we built pillow lines, transfers and huge suspended log ladders in the trees. Anyone familiar with the B.C. snowpack knows that everything pillows. The snow just sticks. We built about 100 features, and I’m completely confident that we’ve created the best, most diverse snowboarding run in the world.

It starts at a sustained 45-degree pitch at the very top, then levels out to 40, 35, then 30 degrees as you get further down. About two-thirds of the way down is a bench. We’re going to bring the snowcat in and groom the inrun into a 200-foot-wide kicker. We might break it up into three or four 30-foot-wide kickers. We haven’t decided yet. Basically the idea is to have a massive jump that everyone can hit into a full powder landing. The younger guys are really going to have an edge over the older guys here. From there, the remainder of the course is more of a Burton Stash-style park, with jibs and smaller features to play around on.

When it’s all said and done you have a multi-dimensional contest run that demands that a rider know how to pick a line, ride pow and ride pillows. The creativity level and confidence it will take to ride this course fast is huge. It’s safer, and you’ll see better snowboarding, when people feel good and secure about the lines they’re going to ride. The goal of the event is to flatten the playing field and really bring out the strongest overall riding.

The most important thing is, this is NOT a one-off event. This is the start of a new movement. We’re going to try to change the paradigm of snowboarding. I truly believe that this type of event, spread around the world, can become the highest echelon of competitive snowboarding.

The contest holding period is Feb. 2-9. The contest itself is only one day, but, just like in surfing, we’ve got a window of time to run the event in the best weather. Everyone will get a day to really scope their line. No one can ride the course, but we will have a lot of measures in place for people to figure out the lines they want to ride. Will have full photo maps of the course blown up. They’ll be able to ride down both sides of the venue.

We’ve also built two cantilevered gangways out from the hill — these big metal structures that are basically like massive gangplanks that hang out over the top of the course, with judge and viewing towers about two-thirds of the way down. So everyone will be able to walk out and look down over the run.

Danny ZapalacJust a mellow little launch ramp through the trees. In the back there, beyond a laughing [Art of Flight filmer] Gabe Langlois.


Some of the invited riders will be John Jackson, Nico Müller, DCP, Jake Blauvelt, Gigi Rüf, Wolle Nyvelt, Lando, Devun Walsh, Pat Moore, Shaun White (?!) and some more. Terje confirmed already. Ain’t it a bit sad, just to invite world class riders only? Considering that Red Bull Media House is also behind this, there might be some sort of film maybe expected – reason for not inviting others than the pure elite? We can’t tell you yet, but for sure this is going to be another sick event – that’s for sure. Stay tuned for more info on this outstanding event to drop here on your fav Snowboarding webzine as soon as there’s something brand new to know about!


\\ interview by ESPN | pictures by Danny Zapalac


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