Young blonde knights Hana Beaman as queen.

Natural Selection, Day 1, achieves objective according to surf journalist: “Young daughter got to watch Hana Beaman backflip then went out, attempted herself, landed on head and believed helmet spoke to her!”


Travis Rice, holding a vegetarian breakfast burrito with avocado in one hand, an iPhone 11 in the other, sits in a bright hotel restaurant booth between two attractive blondes, one fading, exhausted. He hadn’t slept the night before and his eyes, peeking over face mask, under Red Bull stocking cap, reflect it.

“Why didn’t you sleep last night?” The fading blonde smirks, knowing full well why and not partying or nervousness. More later…

Travis ignores and asks the non-fading one, “What did you think about the bunny avalanche?”

“I hope they don’t die,” she responds keeping her attention on an iPad she’s supposed to be doing school work on but is watching J-Pop videos instead.

“You headed up, Trav?” a production employee, masked, comes over to inquire.

“Right now…” he responds.

Shaun White is at a high top across the room wearing an opalescent puffy jacket. He is fresh off dropping out of the X-Games for tweaked knees and getting castigated by the voice of professional snowboarding Todd Richards.

Travis lugs himself up, Shaun comes over. They clasp hands and bro hug. Travis thanks him for coming out with real genuineness then turns toward the cadre of other production employees waiting for him.

Natural Selection kicks off in, exactly, less than an hour and the overall vibration should be one of sheer terror but it isn’t. Launching not only an event, but a tour, in the lap of a pandemic with a roster of international stars would be extremely ill-advised but, then again, so is everything else Travis does.

Shaun ambles back to his table. Travis is gone.

And in exactly less than an hour international star, Austrian, Gigi Ruff is pulling himself out of a reclaimed wood Yeti branded Quonset hut at the top of course dreamt, built, willed into existence.

Two attractive blondes, one fading, sit captivated in front of the computer upstairs in hotel room, watching every move, every line, the angle of god, quickly smashing the volume down key to drown commenter drone, filling it with a J-Pop soundtrack.

It is magnificent.

Absolutely magnificent.

So magnificent that the non-fading one says, “Daddy, we need to go snowboarding right now.”

Natural Selection fulfilling its true destiny after only one international star. Moving an eight-year-old so profoundly that she had no other instinct than to jump into her Burton Grom Boas and tighten the nob.

Granted in was Gigi Ruff but still.

I’ll let those who truly understand snowboarding at this level to weigh in on the specifics, winners and losers, bests and worsts. I spent my day tracking that eight-year-old hunting ramps into pow while intermittently streaming the live broadcast volume down.

She got to watch Hana Beaman backflip, while we were at lunch, before going out for more. She then attempted a backflip, landed on her head and told me her helmet spoke to her.

Long live Natural Selection.

Natural Selection Day 1 is a go with the sun poking through grey clouds casting a glorious light on the future!

Much money to be made.

An exciting day about to unfold at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Natural Selection kicks live in less than an hour. Travis Rice just finished a veggie breakfast burrito with avocado and is headed up to the course.

Shaun White hovers at a corner table wearing an opalescent jacket.

The day will be wrapped here, later, but soak in the rider list, below, and make quick side bets with friends or enemies.

Much money to be made.

Mikkel Bang (NOR), Werni Stock (AUT), Victor de La Rue (FRA), Eric Jackson (USA), Pat Moore (USA), Blake Paul (USA), Austen Sweetin (USA), Elias Elhardt (GER), Ben Ferguson (USA), Sage Kotsenburg (USA), Nils Mindnich (USA), Mark McMorris (CAN), Chris Rasman (CAN), Travis Rice (USA), Gigi Rüf (AUT) and Bode Merrill (USA) who earned entry via the judge-selected Wildcard contest. In the women’s field, it’s Jamie Anderson (USA), Marion Haerty (FRA), Anna Gasser (AUT), Hana Beaman (USA), Elena Hight (USA), Robin Van Gyn (CAN), Hailey Langland (USA), and the judge-selected Wildcard winner, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL).

More after the story develops.


Official: Natural Selection will run tomorrow morning with the world’s best snowboarders attacking the world’s best professional snowboard contest!

The horror, the horror.

I woke up at 4:30 this morning with a terror pulling me slowly then quickly from sweet slumber, viciously. That sort of full-bodied terror that takes multiple minutes to semi-recover. Shortness of breath. Picking up the phone to check the time every three minutes. Heavy questioning of one’s life choices. Full knowledge that sleep would never return.


The reason for this horror?

Manic from being part of a press junket unseen in professional surfing since the early 2000s, I excitedly signed up for the following morning’s early tram guided backcountry tour with a heavy crew of legendary snowboard journalists and snowstorm expected to hit that night.

A dream while floating on a cloud of very fine beer and sausages, all complimentary.

A nightmare at 4:30.

My experience with fresh powder backcountry was tomahawking down hills behind a Make-a-Wish kid with Travis Rice as guide and my loving wife almost reaching her breaking point.

Sure, I learned from my shame and willed myself into what I imagined passed as acceptable form, cutting into the trees every now and then, finding a quadrangle untracked slightly off a groomer, but that form had never been truly tested since.

Even worse, I’ve made it my life’s work to shame VALs on the world’s most anti-depressive surf website BeachGrit.

Vulnerable Adult Learners.

Those who pick up surfing, or any extreme sport, late in life and make a mockery of the whole business by having no internal gauge on how, when, where they should do.

What they should wear.

I have a pair of Kith x Moncler cheetah print alpine boots.

I don’t have a backpack with transponder, shovel, poles, airbag.


Thankfully the greatest custom snowboard maker in the world, Mikey Franco, lives in Jackson Hole and my loving wife hooked up the backpack though I, still high on a pillow of fine beer and sausages, insisted I’d be ok with my young daughter’s sequined unicorn backpack filled with American Girl Doll clothes.

I picked it up an hour before the tram was set to depart, awake and terrified for three hours prior.

Getting into the tram line, I gingerly asked legendary snowboard journalist Drew Zieff where I should put my transponder, when to pull the ripcord on the airbag that would, theoretically save me from avalanche burial.

A complete VAL.

An utter VAL.

Tram up, terrified, sitting in lodge at top while snow and wind whipped outside, terrified, whole crew gathering including the legendary snowboard journalist Colin Wiseman, terrified.

Guides, wonderful and friendly, knowledgeable, speaking to the general knowledge of the heavy crew not me.

Then it was go time. I traversed behind, dropped in to a bowl and….

….had more fun than I have ever had in my life.

Straight VAL fun.

The best thing I had ever done in my entire life and I didn’t care if my arms were akimbo, legs unbent, dumb, dumber and kooky. I was loving every entire second and loved the next drop and the next drop and the next drop through the trees even though I can’t pick a line to save my life.

Snowboarding is the greatest extreme sport on earth, truly, and I’m a VAL for declaring in my hideous VAL style but it just plain is and I don’t care if the world knows it.

Though I don’t know how anyone jumps on a snowboard and looks smooth. I was forced to, at some point, and it was 1 foot, not Hawaiian, of air and ungainly, giraffe-like, which makes me marvel, all the more, at Travis Rice’s Natural Selection which officially goes live tomorrow at 9:30 am (Jackson Hole time) on Red Bull TV.

The very definition of a buried lead but I am still celebrating not getting buried myself and vibrating with glorious VAL synapses.

More as the story develops.

Voice of professional snowboarding Todd Richards takes hammer to Shaun White’s recent decision making: “I (expletive deleted) knew he was going to pull out of X-Games, I (expletive deleted) knew it!”

There was blood.

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!

The dream is alpine.

“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.

Media junket?

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?

Because why?

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.

I don’t have pieps, a shovel or a backpack.

In collaboration with the true and core Transfer magazine.