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PHOTOS: Revelstoke Natural Selection Tour wows local crowd

The riders took on the Montana Bowl just outside of Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s ski boundary

The Natural Selection Tour (NST) Revelstoke hosted its first day of competition on Wednesday, March 13, where 24 riders competed for 12 coveted spots in the finals.

Riding in the rugged –and naturally augmented– Montana Bowl of Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR), the competitors were met with sunshine and a crowd of spectators. Up for grabs in the event were spots in the NST final to be hosted in Selkirk Tangiers Heli-Ski tenure. With big drops and cliff faces, the riders were put to the test making for a unique show for those at the bottom watching.

Starting around noon, the event went on for most of the day, giving spectators entertainment into the evening. One such spectator, James Mahn, managed to catch the action by happy coincidence on a visit to Revelstoke from Canmore.

“I can’t believe the terrain they’re taking on,” said Mahn.

The zone that the riders took on was in a secluded section of RMR’s property that has yet to be developed.

Mahn was excited to see all the strong women’s riders attacking the course, too.

“It’s so cool to see the girls rip as well, like I’m a big Zoi Sadowsky-Synnott fan cause she’s a Kiwi as well and is one of the best female snowboarders in the world and of all time,” said Mahn.

Unfortunately for Sadowsky-Synnott, the New Zealand rider didn’t advance to the final round, falling to the high-scoring Hailey Langland. Langland’s top run was the best women’s run of the day, which earned her a new snowmobile as a prize and a spot in the final.

Two local action sports professionals were also in the crowd on Wednesday to watch. Professional mountain bike rider, Casey Brown, and professional skier, Sammy Carlson, were in the athlete’s zone to watch the riders.

“It’s so nice to be here just for pure entertainment,” said Brown.

Brown hosts the Dark Horse Invitational — an inclusive women’s mountain bike competition that is dedicated to the progression of the sport. Brown, who’s no stranger to competition, was enjoying the opportunity to watch instead of competing.

“It’s been amazing to watch,” she said.

Brown had met several of the athletes previously, but as a skier Carlson was more familiar with the riders.

“Lots of respect and love for all the riders in the event and just super cool to see like all the heads here in town and ride on the home hill where it’s often so quiet,” said Carlson.

Carlson said the area was an early season favourite of his and complimented all the work done by Dustin Craven and the rest of the builders over the summer to make the region more rideable.

“It’s like a perfect venue for what this event is but we got to get a ski version on here,” he said with a smile.

With the sun emerging intermittently through the clouds, spectators were treated to good lighting and comfortable temperatures. RMR communication manager, Laura Meggs, said she was happy to see the event come together so well.

“It’s honestly indescribable to see it come together. It’s been a lot of hard work on everybody’s part, from the build in the summer, to patrol getting it ready for today and the NST crew — it’s just pretty incredible to see everybody out here enjoying it,” she said.

Mikey Ciccarelli was one of the riders enjoying the day the most. Ciccarelli earned himself a score of 81.2 in his second –and final– run of the day, punching his ticket to the final as the lone Canadian left in the competition.

Despite the strong performance, Ciccarelli reported feeling some nerves ahead of his runs.

“I mean, I was definitely nervous going into it. Blake [Paul] is such a good rider and always stays on his feet. So, I knew I had to put one down,” said Ciccarelli.

Looking ahead to the finals, which will be in backcountry alpine terrain, Ciccarelli said he was excited for the change in terrain.

“I’m actually really looking forward to the Alpine zone because it’s big, but there’s a lot of potential for freestyle, and that’s where my riding shines. So, I feel like it could suit me pretty well,” he said.

Ciccarelli heads into the final as the last Canadian in the competition. He will be joined by Torstein Horgmo, Sage Kotsenburg, Austin Sweetin, Jared Elston, Nils Mindnich, Torgeir Bergrem, and NST founder, Travis Rice.

For the women’s final, Hailey Langland, Marion Haerty, Jamie Anderson, and Mary Rand will all be competing.

The finals will be held near Revelstoke in the Selkirk Tangiers Heli-Ski tenure, but will be streamed on Red Bull TV on April 4.

READ MORE: Creating the Revelstoke Mountain Resort venue for the Natural Selection Tour