Chad Chomlack

Words by Stan Leveille
Trying to quantify what makes Travis Rice’s balls significant to snowboarding would be about as easy as following him down a never-before-ridden Alaskan line. Argued by many as the best all-round snowboarder globally, he started his journey in the spotlight at 18, putting the industry on notice with a few  backside rodeos at Snowboarder magazine’s Superpark in 2001. This move would be the first step in his catapult towards becoming a name in snowboarding known by all.  His actions on that day would lead him to the Winter X Ga mes as well as his pivotal role in the film 'Transcendence.’ Fast forward through a series of contest wins and iconic video parts, Rice Co-founded Brain Farm in 2005 resulting in iconic snowboarding films like That’s It, That’s All and The Art of Flight. His visionary approach worked in congruence with the creation of Red Bull Supernatural in 2012. This concept, after several more iterations, would evolve over time into the electrifying event known as Natural Selection. 
Travis Rice has a spectacular way of staying at the forefront of snowboarding’s progression. A likeness that could be equated to a Kelly Slater in surfing–Older than most of the field and putting them to shame in a way that almost seems easy for him. Like he was built for this. He’s a stand up member of the community who absolutely contrasts the “never meet your idols” adage. 
 In this interview, we delve into Travis's perspective on victories in his own contest, the optics around that, his mentoring role to the upcoming generation, the transformative impact of fatherhood, His recent footage in Sequencer and the mental strength it takes to complete everything we just listed.

Chad Chomlack

As the foundational force behind the Natural Selection Tour, do you find it challenging to switch your mindset as a rider and that of an event organizer? What hurdles do you encounter in juggling those?

I've actually distanced myself further from the invitation process. I've recused myself from the selection committee and then even some format components; there's a few things that I have just kind of stepped away from, and we’ve got a badass team. While there are challenges, I think the beauty of it is that I get to approach the event with a rider's mindset. It's a huge open field for creative expression, and it's a bit limitless due to the nature of snow conditions, terrain, topography, global location, field, and format. And I think that the fun part is that it's very unconstrained. However, when it comes to say, going live to the world and Liam Griffin having to put his hat on and put this thing into a timetable and a spreadsheet, I think that's the big constraining factor, and where a lot of hard work comes in.

Chad Chomlack

You've been crucial to the evolution of backcountry snowboarding in a contest format. When you win Natural Selection, do you sense the hostility from others surrounding you winning your own contest?

I mean, of course. I'm well aware of the dark comedic background of winning your own contest, and frankly, I'm quite disappointed in the riders' last year for letting me take it because let's be clear, it was others to lose last winter, not mine to win. And what I mean by that is I wasn't in a full domination situation up in Alaska. I won because others failed to seize the opportunity. It was not a scenario where I was so on point that others couldn't beat me. And sure, I'm proud, man. I'm stoked on it. However, I go back, at the end of the day, I just want the competition to be as good as it can be, and I want all riders to have an equal and extremely enthusiastic take on the opportunity. What happens, happens, but at least if the conditions are good, riders feel like they had all the research material, time to get comfortable and so forth. If it was a great event, that's what I'd say my number one goal is.