By Jennifer Rebbetoy, Explorebigsky.com Canadian Writer
Photos courtesy of Red Bull Media House
Feb. 4 was a big day for shred nerds everywhere.
Baldface Lodge, outside of Nelson, British Columbia, kicked off Red Bull’s Supernatural event. A completely new kind of snowboard competition, Supernatural melded backcountry riding with terrain park features and was hosted by the widely revered professional snowboarder, Travis Rice.
The world now waits to watch the March 31 airing of the 18 best snowboarders in the world showing off their playful attitudes in an environment steeped in competition and big risks.
Because the weather had to be just right, the one-day comp reserved an entire week (Feb. 2-9), similar to a surf competition. Anticipation rose as the week neared, and riders speculated on the forecast. The window of opportunity grew narrower.
By Friday, Feb. 3, it was obvious it was now or never. That morning the announcement was made: The competition was to start the next day at 8:30 a.m.
First matter at hand was deciding the order the riders would descend upon the course, and an axe throwing competition and nail hammering competition began. Scores (combined time and precision from the lumberjack contest) put the riders in order from best to worst. In this order, they chose when they’d drop into the course.
After all the athletes and media were ferried to their various positions on the course, a snow cat driver came back for the bartenders, hostess, housekeepers and massage therapists. They made it down to the bottom of the course just in time to see the first supernaturalist, Scotty Lago, finish his first run.
The day was flawless, except when DCP tweaked his knee on the first run and had to sit out for the rest of the comp. The bluebird sky created good vibes among the competitors and diehard locals who’d managed to skin or snowmobile in. Even surprise guest Justin Hostynek of Absinthe Films found a good seat.
Two helicopters with cameramen followed each rider down the mountainside. There were two flat screen TVs in the spectators tent. As soon as they hit the kicker in the middle, spectators would climb over one another to get outside to see them fly over the other side, down to the finish line.
Each rider had two qualifying runs, then the top nine took a final third run. At some point between the second and third run, there was a mad scramble to get the staff back to the lodge before the contestants and their entourage returned.
At the award ceremonies, trophies were presented to first, second and third place riders, Travis Rice, Gigi Ruf and Nico. Cue champagne spray and take two.
Supernatural is huge, and I’m not just talking about the features. I look at this event and it gives me hope for the future of competitive snowboarding. Half pipe, slope style, and big air competitions have gone the way of figure skating (shudder). In order to be in contention, riders have to perform certain tricks in a certain way. It’s all tech and no soul.
With Supernatural, Travis and crew picked the best elements of snowboarding and brought them together under one roof. Here we have a venue that promotes innovation and imagination, and encompasses every aspect of snowboarding.
With Travis and crew at the wheel, and big time sponsors paving the way, it’s my hope that Supernatural will help breath new life into competitive snowboarding and beyond. – Erik Morrison