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Baldface Lodge

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About Baldface Lodge

Baldface Lodge offers snowcat skiing operations. It is based in Nelson, British Columbia.

Headquarters Location

607B Front Street

Nelson, British Columbia, V1L4B6,

Canada

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Latest Baldface Lodge News

How The Natural Selection Tour Has Supercharged Women’s Snowboarding Progression

Apr 19, 2022

I cover action sports and the Olympics and Paralympics. Apr 19, 2022, Aaron Blatt/Natural Selection In the last decade or so since it was first designed, the Scary Cherry venue at Baldface Lodge in British Columbia has loomed large in the world of snowboarding. The course, which features 80 massive natural and wooden drops, kickers and other features on a 40-plus-degree slope, is not for the faint of heart. It represents the mountaintop of freeriding, a perfect blend of backcountry wildness and enhanced terrain. Robin Van Gyn, a standard-bearer for female freeriders, is one of the few women in the sport who had ridden Scary Cherry before—but never in competition. In fact, until this year, no woman had. The venue played host to Travis Rice’s early big-mountain freestyle contests, Red Bull Supernatural (2012) and Red Bull Ultra Natural (2013). Then and now, the GOAT of freeriding hoped to combine the elements of competition slopestyle riding and big-mountain freeriding to crown the world’s all-around best snowboarder. But 10 years ago, women weren’t in the mix. Now, they are. The Natural Selection Tour, which just wrapped its second year, is Rice’s most ambitious—and most successful—attempt yet to bring the world’s best all-mountain freeriders together in a contest setting. It consists of three stops—this year, the Tour began at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort at Teton Village, Wyoming, in January; moved to Baldface Lodge outside Nelson, British Columbia, in February; and wrapped up in March in Alaska’s Tordrillo Mountains. At the Baldface Lodge stop, female snowboarders—a field consisting of Hana Beaman, Elena Hight, Marion Haerty, Van Gyn and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott—rode Scary Cherry in competition for the first time. MORE FOR YOU Sadowski-Synnott, fresh off winning a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics slopestyle event and a silver in big air, won the stop with her expert blend of slopestyle prowess and big-mountain riding, performing big wildcats and a backflip on the legendary course. The women celebrate with Zoi Sadowski-Synnott after she is named the winner of the second stop of ... [+] the 2022 Natural Selection Tour at Baldface Lodge, British Columbia Aaron Blatt/Natural Selection “That was a really big moment for women in snowboarding,” Van Gyn said of competing on Scary Cherry. “They’d had Supernatural and Ultra Natural on Scary Cherry with the women watching and wishing they could be a part of that. For the first time, we were a part of that, and it was a really special moment for me in my snowboarding career.” “It was so cool to be able to ride Scary Cherry,” Hight said. “It’s a really iconic run and venue in snowboarding, and so this was the first time women were able to step up to that course. I’m not even sure that the livestream and the footage really shows the steepness and how gnarly that course really is.” In just two years, the Natural Selection Tour has ramped up exposure for riders, especially women, who historically may not have had the sponsor support or funding to travel to remote backcountry spots to film. There’s an established pipeline to professional success for contest freestyle riders in halfpipe or slopestyle—sponsor tie-ins and primetime TV visibility at events like X Games, Dew Tour and the Olympics lead to podium bonuses, equipment deals and endorsements. When it comes to filming in the backcountry, however, away from the television network cameras and sponsor activations, women haven’t always received equitable financial and logistical support to men. Films like 2009’s Stance, 2016’s Full Moon and 2020’s Blank Canvas have given female big-mountain snowboarders a platform, but it took years of hard work and advocacy by the women featured in those films to arrive at a place where filming (and, with NST, competing) in the backcountry exists alongside freestyle contests as a viable career path for women. “There’s definitely a gap in the level of men’s and women’s backcountry riding, and that’s purely because of access and opportunity throughout the years,” Hight, the star of Blank Canvas, said. No stranger to progression, Hight, now 32, began her career in competitive halfpipe riding, becoming the first woman to land a 900 in competition when she was 13 years old. In 2013, she became the first snowboarder (male or female) to land a double backside alley-oop rodeo at X Games. She competed in two Winter Olympics, finishing in the top 10 each time. But in 2018, Hight was presented with a new opportunity. Big-mountain freeride pioneer Jeremy Jones invited Hight to accompany him on a splitboard tour of the backcountry for the film Ode to Muir. Hight relished the new challenge and shifted her career focus. Two years later came her own backcountry film, Blank Canvas, and an invite to the inaugural Natural Selection Tour in 2021. “As the sport has grown that opportunity has grown, and more women are being supported in their backcountry pursuits,” added Hight, who is sponsored by major industry brands like Jones, Smith, Clif Bar and GoPro. “I’ve seen that really shift a lot during my career. Without the support, there’s not the progression, so it’s really cool to see that NST is giving the women the opportunity to step up to what the guys are riding.” And now, she’s been crowned overall Tour champion for 2022, alongside Rice for the men. In addition to winning the first stop at Jackson Hole, Elena Hight was named the overall champion ... [+] among the women in the 2022 Natural Selection Tour Chad Chomlack/Natural Selection Women’s snowboarding needs more than equal opportunity; it requires equitable opportunity. While the Natural Selection Tour has men and women riding the same terrain with the same start point, not every freeride competition can say the same thing. Haerty, 30, is a four-time Freeride World Champion from France. She began her career as a freestyler, dabbling in halfpipe and slopestyle, before moving to freeriding in 2016. No other rider, male or female, has won four Freeride World Tour titles, and she’d be a safe bet to do it every time she competed. But The North Face, Vans, and Rossignol rider wanted a new challenge when she accepted an invitation to the Natural Selection Tour in 2021, returning this year. “It’s really refreshing for the snowboard world to watch this new event instead of to watch X Games or the Olympics or the Freeride World Tour,” Haerty said. “It’s totally different; it’s good to see something new.” Haerty, who counts Beaman and Van Gyn among her “heroes” and has watched their video parts for the last decade, said that being able to ride the same terrain as her male counterparts is key to progressing her snowboarding. “This is really helpful for us to make the same runs as the guys and it’s a source of inspiration to watch the guys for me, so it’s good to be on the same faces,” Haerty said. “I’m really thankful for this opportunity to express myself on the same courses with the guys for sure.” Natural Selection is unique in that each of its three stops features a distinct challenge. The Jackson Hole stop is the closest to a slopestyle competition, and the park contest riders have an advantage there. Baldface is brimming with powdery pillows, much more freeride than freestyle. And Alaska features the kind of big mountain line riding very few snowboarders ever have the opportunity to experience—new even to vets Dustin Craven and Torstein Horgmo. “Being able to compete with the men on the same venue and having that opportunity is really just at least giving us the playing field where we need to start,” said Van Gyn, who won the 2021 Natural Selection Tour overall women’s title. “Every year we’re going to be getting better solely because we’re there now and we’re able to take one step forward every year, and you’re gonna see the progression as time passes.” To be sure, while Natural Selection Tour has undoubtedly driven snowboarding progression—along gender lines but also overall—there is more work to be done. “To be clear, equal prize money is a standard. That is not progressive,” said Van Gyn, who counts Jones, YETI and Arc'teryx among her sponsors. The picture of true equality? “Equal prize money, equal numbers of male and female competitors, same venue.” Currently, the field starts off with 16 men and eight women, with the field cut down to eight and four, respectively, for the second and third stops. (In a triple crown format new for this year, riders are awarded a point matching the position in which they finish at each of the three stops, and the male and female riders with the lowest scores following Alaska are crowned overall winners.) “The field is half for the women, but there are women out there who can compete on that level and we need to be given that opportunity to progress to the next step by equalizing the field,” Van Gyn said. “We feel really strongly about the Natural Selection Tour’s commitment to women. This is only the second year that we have been able to execute in that commitment and it is absolutely our intention to have an equal gender field,” said Circe Wallace, Natural Selection Tour cofounder. “Our mission is big and our commitment to the environment and gender equality are at the center of that mission. Resources required coupled with our lean team are challenges, so it might take a minute, but we will get there, especially as brands start to provide more dollars to supporting women.” Van Gyn points to visibility as one of, if not the, biggest drivers of progression for women in the sport. “If you can’t see yourself in something, it’s hard to dream about it, and for the longest time we were watching the men compete and trying to visualize ourselves doing that,” she said. Now, young women around the world who tune in to the Natural Selection Tour or catch clips on social media can see what Van Gyn and the rest of the women are doing on the Tour and feel inspired to pursue snowboarding. “That’s so much bigger than any podium or winning or any glory associated with the Tour,” Van Gyn said.

Baldface Lodge Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Where is Baldface Lodge's headquarters?

    Baldface Lodge's headquarters is located at 607B Front Street, Nelson.

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