Words: Pat Bridges
"I don't know what to say. It was larger than life. Just having a slopestyle course on a pow field is so insane and fun."
"Scotty Lago's first method set the tone and from there every run was next level."
"This was like six months of built up pressure being released in one day, like the best shit I've ever taken. So relieved!"
–Curt Morgan, Founder, Brainfarm
"It was such a good experience riding with everyone I have looked up to. Such a learning experience too. Hopefully I'll be back next year."
"The level of riding was just incredible. Seeing the unique lines people took was amazing. Standouts were Debari's airs and Rice's whole runs. He is just the best and there is no doubt about it."
"This is a real snowboard contest. This is no X Games or Olympics. From my background and how I grew up snowboarding, this is the quintessential snowboard event. It truly shows who the best snowboarder is because the top is gnarly boots, the middle is an X Games kicker, and the bottom is some acid-gone-wild jib park!"
–Shin Campos, Supernatural Judge
"Rice gave 110% today. A 100% on the hill and 10% at the bar like it should be."
–Ryan Runke, Red Bull Athlete Marketing Manager
There are those rare tipping points that only come along so often where everyone realizes that the game has changed. In snowboarding, Ingemar Beckman's Richter Riksgransen method, Johan's TB5 part, and America's sweep of the Olympic podium in Salt Lake City are but a few of these watershed moments. In a seven day period that saw the legitimate debut of a triple cork in competition and the first five-peat in the X Games halfpipe, undoubtedly the most crucial occurrence for real riders took place in the high alpine above a subdued town in the interior of British Columbia.
The 2012 Red Bull Supernatural was spawned from the multi-talented mind of two-time X Games gold medalist and current SNOWBOARDER and Transworld Rider Of The Year Travis Rice. Building upon Travis's endeavor to bring freeriding to the forefront that began with The Natural Selection and continued to the next level with The Art Of Flight media blitz, Supernatural is a one of a kind event two years in the making. With Supernatural, Rice intends to bring a new side of snowboarding, the world of film and freeriding, to the masses. With the involvement of Red Bull and NBC, the inaugural Supernatural is poised to become the ultimate counterpoint to one-sided saccharine snowboarding showcases like the X Games and Olympics, which currently monopolize the mainstream landscape.
While most riders would be content to sit back and rest on the accolades accompanying a season like Rice is coming off of, trust me when I say that Supernatural is much more of a passion project for the protagonist of The Art Of Flight than anything else he has ever been involved in. From finding the ultimate venue and securing resources, to championing the Supernatural cause in the press, the only part of this event Rice has left to chance is the weather which is why he chose Nelson, British Columbia's Baldface Lodge to hedge his bets.
For two years, the Baldface staff has partnered with Travis and a select crew of "arborists" to sculpt the ultimate freeriding arena. With a fifty-degree pitch and select manmade obstacles peppered across the face, "Scary Cherry" provides a more than adequate piste to enable the best film pros in the game today to perform. Beyond the obstacle-laden steeps rested a 100-foot booter meticulously sculpted by renowned cutter JP Martin. The final challenge for Supernatural contestants lay in a feature-laden jib bonk zone crafted by Jamie Lynn and Mike Parillo. Heavy doesn't even begin to describe the setup.
Seventeen riders eagerly heeded Rice's call, forsaking ESPN, Global Open and Air & Style commitments to take part in this groundbreaking contest. With every name on the start sheet notable, there was no room for also-ran's at the top of "Scary Cherry." The Supernatural drop order was decided in Rice's typically rustic fashion with an axe throwing and nail hammering contest going down on the eve of the event with the best woodsmen choosing their slot.
Scotty Lago was the first rider to drop and had the unenviable task of guineaing the course, yet less than 30 yards from his point of entry Lago sent a sky high method with timeless style and in an instant everyone knew it was on! Dropping second was DCP and the veteran punter strung together backside and frontside 360s as well as a backside 7 melon on the money booter to take the early lead. Unfortunately for David, a slight knuckle on the bottom jib gap left him on the sidelines for the final two runs. Lucas Debari has emerged as a rider's rider as of late and his no-check style took center stage at Baldface. Debari charged the course and took some of the most air of the whole event, ultimately casing a 100-foot gap in the third and final run.
Sage Kotsenberg and Mark McMorris received late invites into Supernatural based on X Games and TTR performances, yet the two rookies renowned for their slopestyle chops did more than hold their own amongst the premier backcountry talent on-hand. On the other side of the coin was perhaps the most esteemed rider of the modern era, Terje Haakonsen. Terje took to Scary Cherry and kept his momentum, chucking methods off every outcropping and popping into high speed 360s in consequential areas making the statement "still got it" seem like an understatement.
Though the whole Supernatural event had the vibe of a family affair with DCP's kid nestled up at the bottom with his wife Megan and Baldface founder/owner Jeff Pensiero's daughter Estelle playing in the media area with Craig Kelly's daughter Olivia, two riders at Supernatural have the chromosomes to make it official and they are John and Eric Jackson. The younger sibling E-Jack was a shoe-in for best trick of the day with a bs 180 nose butter to cab five off of a 30-foot tall platform, until his big brother John stomped a backside 10 double cork on the main launch. Though it could have gone either way, John J got the judges' nod and five g's…$2500 for each cork.
Nicolas Müller took to Scary Cherry with Swiss precision and blended his surfy style with balls-out shredding. Timeless moves like methods, rotating butters and two-story backside 360 ollie drops were mixed with technical tricks like backside180s, backside 5s and switch backside 7s to earn Nico a solid third place.
Gigi Rüf rides like it's his birthright. Bonks galore, open throttle slashes, shifty backside 3s, stalefishes and even a switch backside 7 marked the memorable repertoire of Rüf leaving little doubt as to why he deserved second.
Of course there was one rider to beat and though he had yet to experience the fall line of Scary Cherry firsthand, there was no denying that this was Travis Rice's show. Backflips, butters, big ol' bonks, crails, double taps switch backside 9s and backside 3 double grabs put Travis on top from the first run through the last. Just for his efforts in making the Red Bull Supernatural a reality Rice is a hero, but seeing him settle Scary Cherry proved that he is also a champion!
More events like Supernatural need to happen for the sake of our sport and as I stood in the base lodge at Baldface tasting the fruits of Rice's 10% rule round, I realized that I was already drunk on the intoxicating snowboarding I had witnessed and I don't want to come down. Tune into NBC on March 31st to drink it all in for yourselves as the Supernatural is featured on the Red Bull Signature Series broadcast.
Full Results – 2012 Supernatural
Best Trick – John Jackson ($5,000)
1. Travis Rice ($35,000)
2. Gigi Rüf ($20,000)
3. Nicolas Müller ($15,000)
4. John Jackson
5. Lucas Debari
6. Kazuhiro Kokubo
7. Jake Blauvelt
8. David Carrier Porcheron
9. Eero Niemela
10. Devun Walsh
11. Mark Sollors
12. Terje Haakonsen
13. Eric Jackson
14. Mark Carter
15. Mark McMorris
16. Sage Kotsenberg
17. Scotty Lago
18. Mark Landvik