Baldface to host world’s best
It’s called the Red Bull Supernatural contest and it’s going to crown the best snowboarder in the world right here on the slopes at Baldface Lodge.
Only a month away, Rice, star of snowboard films such as That’s it, That’s all and most recently Art of Flight, will appear on the Today show to reveal the new Red Bull contest.
As a partnership between Red Bull and NBC, Rice will appear from Nelson’s own catskiing operation to promote the Red Bull Signature Series, a series of high-calibre events in not only snowboarding, but skiing, mountain biking and motocross to name a few.
A crew of four from the Today show including host Jenna Wolfe arrived in Nelson Wednesday to shoot a segment at Baldface and the event that is expected to run next week.
“Snowboarding right now is broken into two sectors,” said Rice in a press release.
“The progressive and talented up-and-comers who are doing the most incredible things on the contest and jib side, and you have the film stars, guys who have been in the game for years who started on a freestyle platform and have moved in a more backcountry-focused direction. The two worlds are pretty segregated.”
The idea behind Red Bull Supernatural is to bridge the gap between both groups.
“The two groups have a lot to teach each other… at the end of the day, the best snowboarders out there are the ones who can do it all,” said Rice.
The Red Bull superstar said after scouring everywhere for the perfect place to host the event, they finally found an amazing run at the Nelson-based catski operation of Baldface, which rests 10 minutes north of Nelson by helicopter.
“Without the hard work of owner Jeff Pensiero and the whole staff and crew, the event would not be happening this year,” he said.
Pensiero, who helped start Baldface 12 years ago, said he’s excited and ready to see the world’s greatest ‘boarders on his home turf.
“It’s just so out of control how rad it is,” said Pensiero, adding that now they have their brand new 11,000 square-foot lodge, they can finally say they have a world-class facility.
Over the past five months, the crew at Baldface has been hard at work building over 100 features that will form into multiple pillow lines at top section of the course. Combined with a lower section with other features that will appeal to different styles and a massive jump at the bottom of the course, Rice aims to create a multi-dimensional contest that will test rider’s ability in all areas.
Pensiero said he’s always had faith in Baldface to become the world-renowned destination it’s proving to be.
“I had a lot of faith in my decisions and it’s really cool to see it coming together,” he said.
“I just believe in snowboarding and I believe in snowboarders and I totally always thought that if I started a cat or heli place that I could make it like this.”
While things are looking up for Baldface, Pensiero said it hasn’t been an easy road.
“We went through the death of a partner, which was devastating, we went though that Norwalk virus, we went though a lawsuit last year. We’ve just had to deal with a lot of stuff over the years and I’ve always tried to keep my eyes on going riding and making it worth it.”
Pensiero has already had a bit of time on the course and said it’s going to be the real deal.
“This contest is going to separate the men from the boys… it’s something that hasn’t been done before and it’s something that anybody could win.”
The contest holding period is from February 2 to 9, which will give the riders a window of time to run the event in the best weather possible.
Each rider will also be able to scope their lines safely before their run.
“A big mountain guy, a half-pipe guy, a slopestyle guy, an X Games guy, whoever can hold it together is going to win it and it could be somebody who just throws down a crazy X Games style trick on the booter at the bottom, or it could be somebody who just stacks up and connects a bunch of these pillows at the top, so I think it’s a true representation of who’s the best snowboarder.”
Pensiero said he feels he’s got something really special in Baldface he likes to keep it a little quiet.
“I’ve been really careful to budget and really careful to hire the right people and just protect it and not let the cat out of the bag. It’s really exciting to be a month away from it right now with Travis and he’s freaking out, he’s so excited.”
“We bring over 1,000 people to town every year and they’re all high net-worth individuals. We really love Nelson and we’re so glad we’re here,” he said.
“We’re so glad we’re here and my whole thing is I just don’t want to blow it out to all the tuques in the world… I want to keep it quiet because we’ve got an amazing thing here… It’s such a rad place to live.”