Austria’s Gig Ruf rose above the stacked field of sixteen of the world’s best riders on Sunday to win the Red Bull Ultra Natural, a one of kind, progressive free-ride contest that mixes elements of backcountry riding with slopestyle riding at the famed backcountry mecca Baldface Lodge in British Columbia.
“I don’t know, I definitely got lucky,” Ruf told Red Bull about his performance. “I don’t really consider myself a ‘winner.’ I believe in luck and coincidence. My friend told me about a great quote that says a winner doesn’t need luck, but I believe there was a little bit of luck involved today just because of how Mother Nature played out and how she played into my vision.”
The contest took place on the mile-long “Scary Cherry” run and each rider was given two runs to impress the judges on the course that incorporated powder elements with more than 100 man-made features that included jumps, jibs, bonks, and log rides.
The stakes for Ultra Natural were high, as the contest served as the second installment of pro snowboarder Travis Rice’s Supernatural event, which took place on the same course last year and at the time produced the most progressive riding to date.
Rounding out the podium this year was Swiss rider Nicolas Muller and American Bryan Fox, who was a late addition to the contest and filled the last wild-card spot just a few days before the event.
To get some inside into the progressive contest, we got in touch with Snowboarder magazine editor-in-chief Pat Bridges, who rode the course and witnessed all the action.
Check out what Pat had to say below and click the top photo above to view the gallery.
What were the biggest differences you witnessed with this year’s Ultra Natural contest from last year’s Super Natural?
This year the riders arrived knowing what to expect. They brought more confidence to the course and it showed. They tackled terrain and features that stood dormant in 2012 and everyone showed glimpses of greatness in 2013.
What was the most impressive trick you saw, by whom, and on what feature?
On Gigi Ruf’s first run, he gapped up and onto the three story “Caterpillar” butter pad and stomped the exit. Insane.
In your opinion, who rode the course the best and why?
The Ultra Natural event is perfectly suited to Gigi Ruf’s unique blend of spontaneous Big Mountain freeride skills and technical freestyle pedigree. In turn his line choice and trick selection were not only superior but his flow and momentum were unmatched.
What was the standout moment for you while in Baldface?
The standout moment for me was seeing Terje Haakansen destroy the face of Scary Cherry, putting riders 10 to 20 years his junior in their place. He sent what will go down as one of the great methods of all time over 100 feet down the fall line.
Do you think this year’s Ultra Natural was the most progressive contest to date?
While the 2013 Ultra Natural will most assuredly be renowned as a pivotal moment in the trajectory of snowboard competitions, I don’t believe the weather allowed for it to be the most progressive contest to date.
What can be done to improve the setup of the Ultra Natural next year?
The main jump still needs to be dialed a little bit more, and it would be insane to have a natural hip element. But other than that the setup is about as insane as you can get.
The Ultra Natural is a part of The Red Bull Signature Series and fans can see all the action on NBC on March 30.
Results for the 2013 Red Bull Ultra Natural:
1. Gigi Ruf 82.6 72.4
2. Nicolas Muller 76.4 71.4
3. Bryan Fox 44.6 75.4
4. Terje Haakonsen 66.2 60.2
5. David Carrier-Porcheron 62.2 39.2
6. Mark McMorris 61.6 45.4
7. Eero Niemela 61.0 34.0
8. Pat Moore 59.0 38.0
9. Lucas Debari 57.2 53.0
10. Travis Rice 56.2 49.2
11. Jussi Oksanen 27.8 55.4
12. Bode Merrill 48.8 45.2
13. Jake Blauvelt 46.8 48.0
14. Wolfgang Nyvelt 45.6 42.8
15. Torstein Horgmo 32.6 44.8
16. Mikey Rencz 39.6 40.0
Photos courtesy Red Bull