I wanted to find out more about Quiksilver's Natural Selection snowboarding competition, which sounded pretty interesting. Newest team rider Travis Rice has picked 17 riders to participate in the event, which will be held Jan. 30 to Feb. 5 in Jackson Hole. Natural Selection has a seven-day holding period to ensure the best powder conditions. The actual competition spans two days.
I asked Quiksilver's snow team manager Brian Craighill a few questions:
The Quiksilver Natural Selection was the brainchild of our newest rider, Travis Rice. We signed him in January 2007, and he came to the table with a handful of amazing, out of the box ideas for a snowboarding event. He had been talking to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for a few years about it, and they seemed to really be into it.
Long story short, the specifics of the event developed quickly because we were all on the same page from the very start. We all agreed that this thing had to be about real snowboarding, and not about machine made jumps or icy halfpipes. There was absolutely no interest on our part to produce another slopestyle or halfpipe event. Travis' vision of the Natural Selection was very clear, and because it was so unique and seemed like such a great fit for the Quiksilver brand, we were all over it.
Yes and no. Quiksilver Europe has produced many large snow events in the last 5 to 10 years due to such a large European market demand. But yes, for Quiksilver North America this is the biggest event we have taken on for snow. Again, for the last five or six years we felt that there was no reason to add another "normal" slopestyle or pipe event to the already packed contest scene. If Quiksilver snow was going to do an event, it would have to be unique, and totally relevant for our brand. With the addition of a team rider like Travis Rice, we finally have the platform to do just that.
Travis grew up in Jackson, WY and still lives in Jackson when he isn't traveling the world. His family-like relationship with Jackson Hole Resort made it an obvious first choice. Aside from the near perfect natural terrain of Dick's Ditch and Casper Bowl, the two locations that the event will be held, Jackson Hole Management was willing to close off these two popular areas on the mountain for two weeks prior to the event.
Another very important aspect of The Natural Selection is perfect powder conditions. Every rider invited to the event spends a large majority of their time every year chasing storms, getting up way too early in the morning, and working extremely hard to find perfect snow conditions for riding and filming. Our goal is to create those perfect conditions for the Natural Selection, and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has been an integral part of that plan.
Aside form the obvious on-mountain advantages of Jackson Hole Resort, the town of Jackson will play a fairly big role during the week of the event. Travis really wanted to expose all of the invited riders to the lifestyle in Jackson, WY and all that it entails.
All of our riders have a big voice at Quiksilver. A major reason we sponsor the riders that we do is because we believe in who they are, and what they have to say. They personify our brand philosophies. But, not all of our riders come to us with ideas for events. In fact, some of our riders don't even ride in events. Some approach us with ideas for movie projects, editorial story ideas, and many more opportunities along those lines. All of which are equally important to Quiksilver.
So, yes. I think that if any of our riders approached us with an event concept, and it made sense for the brand, than we would try to help fulfill their vision. It is in our best interest to do so.
Prior to the event, we will be marketing with print ads in the core media, and online through our website, and the websites of the sponsor partners. We will have promotional posters, and other marketing collateral distributed to local shops in Jackson, and also our relevant Quiksilver retail stores. On site branding will play a big part during the event. We have hired a crew to film the event with some state of the art cameras, and we will daily event coverage, produced and edited to be released on line on multiple websites. Not a live webcast, but close. Post event marketing plans are still in the works, but may include a promo DVD of the event.
The Natural Selection is a great opportunity for our program for a number of reasons, the first of which is brand visibility. There is a lot of competition in snowboarding these days, and a unique event like this attracts the attention of the industry, snowboarders, and core and national media.
Secondly, it is an opportunity to communicate that Quiksilver snow is about snowboarding in the purest sense. By inviting an insanely talented group of riders to Jackson Hole to ride fresh powder and to experience the local culture, I believe we are saying just that. And lastly, this is a great opportunity to promote the personality and creativity of Travis Rice, the newest Quiksilver team rider.
Here's Travis Rice talking about his vision for the event in a video.