Sports

Final line-up set for Red Bull Ultra Natural event north of Nelson

Red Bull Ultra Natural course at Baldface Lodge north of Nelson awaiting the riders arrival. - Christian Pondella photo
Red Bull Ultra Natural course at Baldface Lodge north of Nelson awaiting the riders arrival.
— image credit: Christian Pondella photo

Jussi Oksanen, Bryan Fox and Terje Håkonsen round out the 16 riders packing up for a week at Baldface Lodge to compete at Red Bull Ultra Natural. Travis Rice assigned the final rider nominations to event host Baldface Lodge along with Snowboarder Magazine and TransWorld SNOWboarding Magazine.

With the wildcards and various nominations in, at the starting line 10 course vets will meet six riders coming in fresh. Red Bull Ultra Natural is set to redefine what is possible in snowboard competition on a single day and a single dream snowboard run during the February 15-21 holding period.

For Baldface Lodge’s pick, owner Jeff Pensiero gathered the opinions of the guides, cat drivers and the staff, who have the chance to witness many of the world’s best riders drop into Baldface’s terrain all winter long. But this winter, Håkonsen again proved himself one of the best in the world as he opened up “Pressure Chute” on the tenth anniversary recognition of legendary snowboarder and guide Craig Kelly’s passing.

“In honor of Craig’s passing, I invited a small crew to come ride and dedicate a hand-made cross on the ridge above he lodge,” explained Pensiero.

“We had the opportunity to do lots of riding and line scoping. Eventually, we headed up to one of the gnarlier, more committing lines in the tenure, a pencil thin chute I have had my eye on for years but no one had ridden. We were looking and basically saying ‘Is that even really rideable?’ when we heard a binding strap clicking away above us and a Norwegian accent declared ‘I better do this before one of you snakes me!’ and off he went. Terje straight-lined then named, the "Pressure Chute" that day, and I felt like I had witnessed Michael Jordan dunk the winning shot. I truly believe that he is not only a legend who rides a snowboard with viking like conviction, but that he will possibly even step up and win this competition,” added Pensiero. “It is an honor to give him the opportunity to compete with the best riders on the planet again, in the best snowboarding competition ever.”

Twelve years ago Snowboarder Magazine handed an ambitious amateur a wildcard spot into their signature event, Superpark. That amateur was Travis Rice, who proceeded to stun the world with his skills, style and fearless approach. This year Rice returned the favor granting Snowboarder a chance to invite a rider for Red Bull Ultra Natural. The editors choose SoCal Park bred, turned Northwest freeride fixture, Bryan Fox.

“In addition to being an all-around badass, Bryan brings a purity to his riding and though he never seeks the spotlight, he deserves it,” explained Pat Bridges, editor-in-chief ofSnowboarder. Last year Bryan was seen trading tracks with Travis in Alaska and people saw firsthand that Travis had found a new off-piste partner in crime.”

Lauding “Juicebox” for pushing the progression of snowboarding for even more than the 16 years he’s been pro and filming video part enders with the sickest style, TransWorld SNOWboarding selects Jussi Oksanen to represent.

“It’s an honor to be nominated. I saw last year’s event and it was incredible so I’m really excited. When do you ever get a chance to ride something like this untracked dream course? That and having fun is what I’m personally looking forward to,” said Oksanen.

Invited Riders for the 2013 Red Bull Ultra Natural are: Travis Rice, Gigi Rüf, Nicolas Müller, Lucas Debari, Kazuhiro Kokubo, Jake Blauvelt, David Carrier-Porcheron, Eero Niemela, Terje Håkonsen, Mark McMorris, Pat Moore, Mikey Rencz, Torstein Horgmo, Bode Merrill, Jussi Oksanen and Bryan Fox.

Fans in the U.S. can tune-in to NBC on March 30 at 10:30 a.m. to catch Red Bull Ultra Natural presented by Nike Snowboarding. The show airs as part of the Red Bull Signature Series, an action sports property featuring some of Red Bull’s top events including Dreamline, Wake Open and Rampage.

For more information visit www.redbullsignatureseries.com.

To watch the event trailer and learn more about Red Bull Ultra Natural visit www.redbull.com/ultranatural.

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