Travis Rice on His Latest Project: The Natural Selection Tour™
The First-Ever Backcountry Snowboarding Tour of This Size
The Natural Selection Tour is the culmination of years of backcountry exploration and a desire to push new frontiers in snowboarding—a project decades in the making for Quiksilver athlete Travis Rice. We spoke with Travis about how the tour came to life, the impact of COVID, his downtime (spoiler: it involves a lot of emails), and his gear closet, which sounds epic.
When did you first get the idea for the Natural Selection Tour and what was the process for bringing it to life?
In 2005 or 2006, in Jackson filming with Bryan Iguchi, we got into some conversations about competitions and the bigger picture of where snowboarding was headed. Through that spark and working with my team, we founded the Natural Selection concept and in 2007 spent a lot of time on pre-production. Quiksilver, and more importantly Bob McKnight, really believed in the vision and with their support we had enough backing to take the first steps to the inaugural Natural Selection in 2008.
What aspect of the Tour are you most excited about?
Obviously, the snowboarding is going to be really exciting … to see everyone’s take on how they put a line together on such a varied and diverse face. But honestly, I think I’m most excited about the narrative being developed around Natural Selection and the potential it has to present another perspective on how we interact with the natural world and the responsibility needed to not only be safe in the mountains, but also live a symbiotic lifestyle.
How has snowboarding changed for you this year with COVID, and what have been the challenges of staging the tour right now?
After all of the obvious hardships, the foremost silver lining for me has been being at home, starting a family with my beautiful partner Brook, and getting to spend some quality time in the mountains around my home.
Staging the tour this year during a pandemic has been incredibly dynamic and very difficult. It has taken the amazing team we have at Natural Selection Tour and especially the very bold partners that believe in us enough to continue to back us in such a challenging year.
When you’re not out riding, what do you love to do?
Emails. I LOVE EMAILS. It’s been a great year for me and I’ve written the most emails ever in my life—I love composing, responding, forwarding, but bcc’ing is no doubt a favorite.
But seriously, when I’m not writing emails, I really love creating. Whether it’s components around the backside of this tour, or snowboard design, graphic design, bindings, boot closure systems, or outerwear fine tunings, I have always enjoyed developing products with my partners. That’s for sure a big passion of mine.
Tell me about your snowboard gear closet.
I’ve got a pretty beastly gear closet. Again, this goes back to the passion I have for product design and innovation. Each year I’ve got a couple of projects going with most of my sponsors, so I have a very deep well of prototypes.
My go-to board right now is the Golden Orca. It’s a concept that we’ve been fine-tuning for several years now. It dates back to the Goldmember snowboard creation that I did with the team at Lib when we were trying to design the optimal board for the Supernatural course in BC. Fast forward seven years, I’ve re-designed the Goldmember to bring in learnings from the Orca.
I believe the Golden Orca is the ultimate freestyle, freeride snowboard that rides like a directional but is as trickable as a twin. It’s without a doubt my go-to snowboard. We also just released the Orca split, which takes the best backcountry board and turns it human powered. Not to mention some of the proceeds go to an incredible cause with The Orca Conservancy.