The Natural Selection Duels are back for 2024. But there are a few new twists. This year, there are no challengers or defenders, just duos pitted against one another in locations all over the world in hopes of snagging a coveted Revelstoke spot. There are only 6 Duels in total, as the rest of the 24 total spots in Revelstoke are already spoken for.
NST announced earlier that this year’s contest in Revy would be a two-day event, with a qualifiers day and a finals day. There will be 24 riders competing: 12 who qualified from their top-half of the field placing in Revelstoke in 2023, 6 winners from the 6 Duels, and 6 invited riders that have yet to be announced.
Here’s who we know will be riding in Revy as of now: Mikkel Bang, Mikey Ciccarelli, Dustin Craven, Jared Elston, Robin Van Gyn, Ben Ferguson, Hailey Langland, Elena Hight, Torstein Horgmo, Blake Paul, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, and Travis Rice. 11 of these riders qualified through their 2023 Tour performance and we’re excited to see Robin Van Gyn’s name back on the roster after forgoing last year’s Tour to film for a video project–she earned her spot through pre-qualifying in the top twelve of the field in 2022.
6 riders from the below Duels will join the above group, but in true NST form, each head-to-head is a battle of the heavyweights and there’s absolutely no one we want to see knocked out. Here’s the breakdown of the Duels.
Duel 1: Arthur Longo vs. Kevin Backstrom
Location: Andermatt, Switzerland
Arthur Longo and Kevin Backstrom, both irrefutable fan favorites, return for their second Natural Selecton showings in the type of head-to-head where any outcome is going to be an absolute heartbreaker. In an alternate universe of NST, we want both these riders in Revelstoke. Viewers have been waiting for Longo’s ability to float from barely tangible transition to nearly imperceptible transition to come back to the contest since its first year. And Backstrom’s return is heavily anticipated as when he was eliminated at Jackson in 2022 by a very narrow margin, we all wanted to see what he would do next. This Duel is going to be a beautiful nail-biter.
Duel 2: Nils Mindnich vs. Victor Daviet
Location: Purgatory Snowcat Adventures in Durango, CO
Nils Mindnich is no doubt one of the strongest competitors to compete on the Tour, but he has routinely participated in some of the heaviest matches and has yet to make it through to the next round. This year, he’ll face Tour newcomer–and Salomon Snowboards teammate–Victor Daviet, an inventive French rider whose extemporaneous chops in the backcountry are an exciting addition to this year’s contest. Both Victor and Nils pick apart terrain with a meticulously crafty perspective, so this is going to be one heck of a showdown in Durango. Again we ask, why does someone have to get eliminated?
Duel Number 3: Jamie Anderson vs. Emma Crosby
Location: Crested Butte Mountain Resort, CO
Here we go! Jamie Anderson is one of the best snowboarders to ever strap in. Emma Crosby is one of the backcountry’s rising talents. Both riders have a deep freestyle foundation, Jamie as the most dominant slopestyle rider and Emma with an ever-growing video part collection, and both riders are comfortable pressing the metaphorical pedal to the floor in the mountains. What will happen when they collaborate and compete in this Duel in the Rockies? This one is going to be a heater.
Duel Number 4: Austen Sweetin vs. Red Gerard
Location: Eleven’s terrain on Scarp Ridge in Irwin, CO
Two of snowboarding’s favorite snowboarders due to their individual combinations of explosive energy and easy style, Austen Sweetin and Red Gerard will go head-to-head in Colorado to try to secure a spot in Revelstoke. These Quiksilver teammates both had stand-out segments in team video Sequencer, which highlighted the extemporaneous abilities they each possess. Red’s an Olympic gold medalist and Austen’s the gold standard of a PNW backcountry rider, so what will happen when the two face off in on Scarp Ridge? This is a true battle of two titans and we’re already expecting things to be too close to call.
Duel Number 5: Torgeir Bergrem vs. Raibu Katayama
Location: Myoko, Japan
Natural Selection heads to Japan for the first time (very exciting) in another extra heavy match up, this one between Raibu Katayama and Torgeir Bergrem. Both riders come from backgrounds in traditional competition (Raibu in halfpipe, and Torgeir in slopestyle and big air) with perfectionist-grade fundamentals steeped with deep doses of style. Torgeir is returning for his second showing in NST and for Raibu, who rode in last year’s NST Super Session, this will be his first time in the contest. They’ll be riding at Myoko on Japan’s Main Island.
Duel Number 6: Spencer O’Brien vs. Mary Rand
Location: Red Mountain Resort, Rossland, BC
This is a heck of a match up! Spencer O’Brien competed in Jackson two seasons ago and injured her ankle in the first round, ending her bid in the event during a time when her momentum in the backcountry was rapidly rising. She returns for 2024 coming off a highly marked video project to face one of backcountry’s finest riders, Mary Rand, who is also entering into this year’s competition off of a banner video of her own. For years, Mary has asserted herself as one of the best to do it in the mountains and this marks her first swing in NST. This Duel of big mountain heavy hitters is going to be a nailbiter, a heartbreaker, and full of full-on boarding; it’s yet another instance where we don’t want to see either rider eliminated.