This story is part of a feature that first appeared in print in Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine’s March 2023 issue. Read the entire e-edition here:
Dustin Craven, dubbed one of the world’s best backcountry riders, will continue on in the Natural Selection Tour to compete at his home mountain in Revelstoke. The Calgary-raised snowboarder secured his spot in the next stage of the competition tour, and the third stop of the tour in Valdez, Alaska, following his DUEL against Austrian rider, Werni Stock.
Craven is a returning rider on the Natural Selection Tour and the winner of the 2022 tour stop at Baldface Lodge outside of Nelson, B.C.
DUELS is a new segment incorporated into the Natural Selection Tour this year. Eight of the competition’s returning riders and four returning women face off with newly invited riders for one of the 12 coveted spots in YETI Natural Selection Revelstoke. The competition consists of randomized challenges that go head-to-head in the returning rider’s terrain of choice.
The raw footage from each DUEL is scored by the Natural Selection judging panel, including Connor Manning, Chad Otterstrom, Bryan Fox, Giom Morriset and Jody Wachniak. DUELS scores are based on overall performance at the full session rather than the highest scoring run, as in other Natural Selection Tour stages. Judges evaluate the entire day’s riding for creativity, risk, execution, difficulty and overall flow. All elements of the criteria are equally combined to move the day’s most dynamic rider forward in the Tour.
Revelstoke Mountaineer: Tell me about your NST DUEL against Werni Stock?
Dustin Craven: We did it shortly after the last cold snap — one of those sunny days in February. We had been waiting for good weather, and it just so happened that when we planned our window for Werni to come over from Austria, it happened to be a really sunny stretch. We had good snow and cold temps, but the sun was shining, so it was actually a really good day. He came over, and we did five runs. We started super early, around sunrise in the morning, and we were done by 11 a.m., and it was minus 25. So at 11 a.m., we just shut it down, and we drove straight to Halcyon and hit the hot pools for the day.
I have been selected to move on. The next stop is Revelstoke, and the weather window for that part of the tour is March 4 to 11. Valdez, Alaska, is after that from March 25 to April 1. Now that I have the news, I’m planning for that, giving those dates up to be in those locations, and I’m going to try my hardest to win.
RM: How does it feel to have the Natural Selection Tour come to Revelstoke this year and to be able to compete on your home turf?
D: I feel like it’s a little bit less stressful because such a large part of going to events is going for the whole weather window, and that’s usually ten days. So big travel days, spending lots of money and all that kind of stuff. So having it at home, I get to sleep in my own bed and do the event, but on all the down days, I’m around friends and get to keep filming our video. It’s kinda like business as normal with a contest also happening. It takes away the stress of leaving for ten days to try my hardest in a competition in a foreign place.
RM: What is your favourite part of the Natural Selection Tour?
D: The part where you actually get to snowboard is pretty fun. There’s a lot of stress and a lot of work that goes into coordinating and making sure the slopes are safe and everyone working really hard. So it’s a lot of like “hurry up and wait.” So yeah, just the whole event takes so many things to happen. We get to ride such a unique piece of terrain. And when you get to that point, when you finally get to drop in and express yourself as a snowboarder, that is the best part.
RM: Is there anything else you’d like to add about this year’s tour?
D: I think just being able to have the tour at resorts is so huge because the resort, like RMR, gives the athletes a place to stay and obviously, being able to go on the ski hill and have a good time on the down days is pretty huge. I feel like it just makes everyone more comfortable and kind of gives them an opportunity to see new places. So it’s pretty huge that they’re taking care of us, and I think everyone will have a really great trip.
As of March 3, all DUEL competitions will have been completed, and the 12 riders competing at the YETI Natural Selection Revelstoke will move on to Natural Selection Alaska in a final venue outside of Valdez.