Shaun White is, without doubt, the greatest professional halfpipe snowboarder in history and deserves almost all of his gold medals but he is older, now, though not necessarily wiser, or at least according to the voice of professional snowboarding.
The Flying Tomato, you see, had promised to participate in the just-wrapped X-Games though pulled out hours before competition.
Let Todd Richards explain on the exquisite podcast The Monday M.A.S.S. alongside Chris Cotê.
The most beautiful rant in extreme sport this month? Year? Decade?
You be the judge.
Begin around 18:30…
Breaking: Natural Selection holds introductory press junket with fantastic beer and sausages, pleasures unseen in professional surfing since early 2000s!
“Well if this is out there, think of how much more is out there!” Navin R. Johnson danced through his parents’ living room, shouting, after listening to music that spoke to him for the very first time.
That jerk took his inspiration into the wide, wide world working as a circus performer and gas station attendant before finding his fortune through inventing the Opti-Grab™ thereby revolutionizing eyewear forever.
This jerk is a surf journalist and heard the siren song of the mountains tumbling down powdery hills following his ex-professionally snowboarding wife, a Make-a-Wish kid and the world’s greatest snowboarder Travis Rice years ago though hasn’t been able to cover an actual professional snowboarding event until right now.
Covid-19 has laid bare my World Surf League and all of its various contests. Bungling, lack of imagination, arrogant stupidity has canceled not one but two entire professional surfing seasons and when I heard Travis Rice, the very same Travis Rice who I had tumbled behind, who took a nice bite out of my young daughter’s head, was launching an entire tour in a dystopia called Natural Selection… well.
…how much more is out there?
And so I flew to Jackson Hole with my ex-professionally snowboarding wife and Travis Rice’s snack to see.
A media junket was announced the day after we arrived.
Professional surfing has not conducted a media junket since I ran a hot lap on the European leg of the tour, then called the Association of Surfing Professionals, fifteen years ago. Professional surfing hates its media so a junket?
When I walked up seeing every professional snowboarder participating in Natural Selection freely, happily mingling with the snowboard media, beer and the best sausages in the world courtesy of local sausage maker Bovine & Swine, a genuine air of excitement and camaraderie, I could not believe my eyes.
What is this?
My young daughter, waiting for me to take her ice skating on the adjacent rink but sensing opportunity, took her just consumed ring pop and used it as a microphone to interview the greatest in this snowboarding game about some bunny avalanche.
I drank free Fat Tire, staring at my cheetah print Moncler alpine boots, shy and off my game because what?
Snowboard journalists can actually talk to professional snowboarders while drinking free Fat Tire, eating bespoke sausages featuring bacon and blue cheese,
I didn’t ask any questions.
My young daughter got answers on the bunny avalanche from everyone including Mark McMorris who confused “bunny avalanche” with Nevada’s famous brothel “Bunny Ranch,” Travis Rice who issued a lecture on natural selection, Hana Beaman who was worried about the trauma of the bunnies and their collective PTSD and Blake Paul who hoped the bunnies had pieps, a shovel and backpack.
The legendary David Carrier-Porcheron was the one who triggered the bunny avalanche and should have been at Natural Selection, including the legendary press junket, except he is surfing in Costa Rica and cannot make it due Covid-19.
She is clearly a better snowboard journalist than me but I have early ups on the tram, tomorrow morning, with the snowboard journalist community.
Sunset magazine is a wonderful, endearing American icon as comforting as a bowl of fresh Chex mix, knitted wool mittens, Werther’s Original candies, potpourri in bathrooms and everything else that makes us love our grandmothers.
Founded in 1898 as a promotional magazine for the Southern Pacific Railroad designed to combat negative stereotypes about California, Sunset was embraced by our great-grandmothers then our grandmothers as soon as they got their first Buick.
In worrying news, however, Sunset has just published a long feature about the upcoming Natural Selection kickoff event at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort replete with a wide-ranging Travis Rice interview.
It begins thusly…
February 3 marks Day One of a dream snowboarding event that will drop the world’s top snowboarders, with diverse riding backgrounds that range from Olympians to backcountry icons, into a one-of-a-kind competition.
The brainchild of big mountain icon and renowned filmmaker Travis Rice, the YETI Natural Selection Tour is set to run from Feb. 3-9 at Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the first of a three-stop tour featuring events at Baldface Lodge in Nelson, British Columbia, and Tordrillo Mountain Lodge at Alaska’s Judd Lake.
…before Travis explains in further detail.
And great publicity from an iconic outlet but it troubles me to imagine our grandmothers reading, logging on to Red Bull TV and experiencing for themselves. I am concerned their hearts will not be able to take it but am I underestimating their overall cardiovascular health?
We must all call our grandmothers directly following the event to check in.
It is the very least we can do after all those Werther’s Originals.
Pre-Party: Surf Journalist locks into mountain birthright ahead of Natural Selection, the world’s greatest, and only, professional big mountain extravaganza!
The sun rose late in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on February 1, bathing this pre-redemption Narnia tableau in sparkling glory. C.S. Lewis’s classic starring four brothers and sisters, talking fawns and beavers, a lion, witch and wardrobe was one of my very favorite books growing up. That admixture of adventure, eternally high stakes, children with swords, bows and arrows set my young heart racing though I didn’t understand how a world perpetually snowy was a bad thing.
I lived on the Oregon coast where it rarely snowed but perpetually rained.
I dreamed of snow, of Turkish Delight produced by dropping magic driplets from a horse-drawn sleigh into it, cozy fur blankets and, twice a year, when my family drove inland for weekends at Hoodoo Ski Bowl were absolute highlights even though there was neither Turkish Delight nor cozy fur blankets for Hoodoo’s motto spoke to my family’s ethos.
Steep, deep and cheap.
When it was time to finally escape coastal Oregon’s gloom for good, I raced to southern California then Australia then back to southern California, becoming a famous surf journalist along the way, but the snow, the mountains, haunted my dreams.
Maybe it was genetic.
My uncle-cousin is a legend in mountaineering lore. Art Gilkey, who was raised in Iowa but moved to a farm outside of Portland, Oregon after graduating university, was an early Alaskan explorer and part of the third American expedition to K2 in 1953. Their exploits, captured vividly in The Savage Mountain, detail feats of bravery, comradery, skill that are rarer and rarer in our lily-livered modernity.
The team got pinned down by a vicious storm before summiting, Gilkey developed deep vein thrombosis and cut himself loose on descent, which featured a miracle belay, to save the others. His body was discovered in 1993 melting out of glacier on the base of the mountain.
There’s something about the mountains, something about how they peel away softness, weakness, pronounced lack of will.
Artifice is laid bare, here, then abandoned because what good are our social pivots and postures when life and death hang in the balance?
I am currently wearing a pair of Kith x Moncler horse hair cheetah print alpine boots ready to cover Natural Selection’s kick-off, snow-ensconced, and its coterie of un-lily-livered men and women conquering a mountain with flair, style and bottled fear.
Tomorrow you shall meet the chosen few.
My feet shall remain luxuriously warm but also ready for anything.
Rising Sun: Japan’s Yuto Totsuka beats Australia’s Scotty James in X-Games halfpipe final with America’s Shaun White sitting out claiming injury!
In the very early days of World War II, Japan’s Imperial Navy was so dominant on the high seas that a proposal was floated to invade northern Australia. Captain Sadatoshi Tomioka, the head of the Navy General Staff’s Planning section, argued that the United States was likely to use Australia as a base to launch a counter-offensive in the South-West Pacific. He suggested the invasion could be carried out by a small landing force as this area of Australia was lightly defended and isolated from Australia’s main population centers.
There was not general support for this proposal within the Navy, however, and Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander of the Combined Fleet, consistently opposed with his position carrying the day.
Hindsight, being 20-20, would indicate that Japan should have, in fact, invaded Australia but at least, 80 years on, it came to fruition with Japan’s Yuto Totsuka beating Australia’s Scotty James in Aspen, Colorado to win X-Games gold in the men’s halfpipe.
America’s Shaun White sat out claiming boo-boo.
“After talking with the medical staff, decided that pushing through would only make things worse,” he posted to Instagram. “It’s a difficult decision to make, but just need to give my knee some time to recover and I’ll be back soon.”
Yuto threw two 1400s, James did not and Captain Sadatoshi Tomioka is smiling from the grave.
America’s Jamie Anderson took gold in Big Air and will be invading Jackson, Wyoming for Natural Selection in the next few days.