The 2023 Natural Selection Tour begins on February 19th and while the first stop looks different this year (here’s our primer on how Duels works), there’s no less anticipation to see what happens in the first round of head-to-head match ups.

We went through the Duels and made no predictions–because seriously, how can you? Travis Rice vs. Red Gerard? Leanne Pelosi vs. Hailey Langland? Jared Elston vs. Gigi Rüf? (The list goes on.) Natural Selection has a habit of giving us finals-level match ups in round 1, and mainly it’s heartbreaking to have to imagine any one of the competitors exiting the tour before Revy (the nature of compelling competition, of course).

But finally, the waiting is over and Duels goes live on Sunday on Red Bull TV. A new Duel will drop every day for twelve days and then it’s straight to Revelstoke for the second stop of this year’s Tour with a waiting period of March 4-10th.

Here’s all the info from NST:

Epic match-ups between the world’s top 24 riders, as Natural Selection DUELS determine who will compete in the next stages of the 2023 Natural Selection Tour in Revelstoke and Alaska this March
Revelstoke, BC (February 6, 2023)–Olympians, icons and snowboarding’s brightest stars are dropping into mountain venues across the US and Canada in head-to-head competition for the first stage of the 2023 Natural Selection Tour: Natural Selection DUELS. Watch DUELS exclusively on Red Bull TV to find out who comes out on top with high-action edited and judge-scored DUELS as they stream on-demand, daily starting February 19.

The 12 riders who come out on top of DUELS earn passage to the Natural Selection Tour’s second stage, the YETI Natural Selection Revelstoke and the final stage, Natural Selection Alaska, where the best all-around snowboarder in the world will be crowned. 

“DUELS is basically a contest in the backcountry where you are teamed up with an opponent, working together to scope a zone, and then ride together, but against each other. It felt like a day of filming with a big shot of adrenaline,” said Ben Ferguson. “By adding the competition element, we both had to step it up and go for it on day one, trying things you wouldn’t usually dare to try on the first day in a new backcountry zone. Nils is an amazing snowboarder. I was so bummed to be matched up to DUEL him, but it was really fun to finally get to spend time with him in the backcountry and we had a blast riding together.”

All 16 men and eight women invited to compete in the Tour’s third season start off at Natural Selection DUELS. DUELS feature a dozen individual match-ups between “defending” and “challenging” riders designed to bring out each riders’ full creativity, highlight new zones and snowboarding’s diverse styles. Each DUEL will showcase two matched riders competing head-to-head on one day, in one zone.

The 2023 Natural Selection DUELS match-ups as pulled by the NST randomizer. 
Torstein Horgmo vs John Jackson
Ben Ferguson vs Nils MindnichTravis Rice vs Red Gerard
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott vs Marissa Krawczak
Elena Hight vs Enni Rukajarvi
Mark McMorris vs Mikey Ciccarelli
Jared Elston vs Gigi Rüf
Mikkel Bang vs Ulrik Badertscher
Dustin Craven vs Werni Stock
Leanne Pelosi vs Hailey Langland
Kimmy Fasani vs Darrah Reid-McLean
Blake Paul vs Brock Crouch

*Defending rider listed first, challenging rider second

DUELS take place in backcountry and freeride venues worldwide that are selected by the “defending” rider. Most of the defending riders requalified for this year’s Tour from their 2022 Tour season results. In match-ups without a defending rider, because of injury or other consideration, the invited rider with more backcountry seniority is the defending rider. Invited riders are selected annually by the Natural Selection Rider Selection Committee based on contest results, video parts and potential to succeed in the Natural Selection format of backcountry freeriding. 

“I was so excited to get the invite for the Natural Selection and challenge myself in a new way,” said Enni Rukajarvi. “I can’t remember a time when I was this nervous about anything, even with years of competing in slopestyle and big air; this is something really different. I’ve ridden a bit of backcountry over the years and am looking forward to shifting my focus away from slopestyle and into the mountains. I didn’t get to ride as much pow as I would have liked before my DUEL but this was a chance I couldn’t pass up. Being up against Elena, last year’s tour Champion and the queen of lines is not an easy task, but at the same time it is really inspirational to get to ride with and learn from her. Hoping we get a few bonus days so she can show me around Tahoe!“

2023 Natural Selection Tour Dates:

Natural Selection DUELS
Mid-February 2023 exclusively on Red Bull TV

YETI Natural Selection Revelstoke*:
LIVE! March 4 – 11, 2023 on

Natural Selection Alaska*:
March 25 – April 1, 2023 on

*competition to run on one day, when Mother Nature calls it, during seven-day contest window
The eight men and four women to come out on top of Natural Selection DUELS will converge for the YETI Natural Selection Revelstoke based out of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Live-streamed globally within the contest window, March 4 through 11, Mother Nature picks the day when riders will compete. A day of head-to-head competition will culminate with the crowning of a winner. The contest will run in a dynamic venue within the Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing tenure. Known for diverse, big mountain terrain and high-quality, light snow and consistent, reliable snowfall, Revelstoke is a natural fit for the Natural Selection Tour. The Tour will also highlight and celebrate the authentic spirit of the Revelstoke mountain community with events supported by Tourism Revelstoke and the Province of British Columbia.

All 12 riders competing at the YETI Natural Selection Revelstoke will move on to Natural Selection Alaska in an all-new Natural Selection Tour super final venue outside of Valdez. During the window from March 25 through April 1, riders go head-to-head on the iconic steeps and spines of Alaska’s Chugach Mountain Range. Look for riders from every aspect of snowboarding to put together film part worthy runs in one take in an effort to make the final and claim the crown in Alaska.

A manifestation of snowboarders’ wildest dreams, the Tour’s innovative format reveals riders’ full creative expression and requires a deep knowledge of all-mountain conditions to reign supreme. The second and third Tour stops will run within seven-day weather windows to ensure that the snowpack, light and weather is in prime condition. 
Like-minded partners are coming together to help develop and support the Natural Selection Tour. YETI is back as the title sponsor of the Revelstoke event. Backcountry returns as the Tour’s outerwear partner with NST Freeride 3L outerwear kits available now. Pacifico, TAE, Burton, Red Bull, Black Rhino,, Kodiak Cakes, Oakley, Wheel Pros, GoPro, Ski-Doo and Dakine will also be Tour partners this season. To get involved please contact the Natural Selection Tour’s Partnership Team

The Industry Alliance marketing platform, where endemic brands are able to directly support the events and their team riders competing on the Natural Selection Tour, will return in 2023. The Tour is proud to have Union, BOA, Lib Tech, GNU, Jones, Capita, Arc’teryx, Norrona, Sandinista, Coal, Salomon, Giro, Flatline Van Co, K2, Handout Gloves, Mons Royale, The North Face, Slash and Protect Our Winters on board for the coming season. Alliance members will receive brand presence on the live-stream, social media and on-site at events, along with access to content and social assets from the Tour.