Sport

A drone's-eye view of snowboarding's Natural Selection Tour

Updated 1705 GMT (0105 HKT) February 7, 2022
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The YETI Natural Selection Tour started its second season in January at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The series aims to bring together the best of competitive freestyle snowboarding with open mountain backcountry venues. Pictured, Austen Sweetin riding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, January 25, 2022. Chad Chomlack/Natural Selection Tour
The tour is the brainchild of Jackson local Travis Rice, widely considered to be one of the best all-round snowboarders of all time. Owen Tozer/Natural Selection Tour
The live broadcast filming is key to the way this competition has been conceived, with custom-built high-speed racing drones following the riders down their runs.
Pictured, Torgeir Bergrem and a drone at Jackson Hole, January 25.
Colin Wiseman/Natural Selection Tour
The sheer scale of the venues -- with more than 60 features and myriad possible routes down the mountain -- means that more traditional broadcast forms, like static cameras or follow-riders with handheld GoPros, would be unable to capture the action in the way the racing drones can. Pictured, Elena Hight in Jackson Hole. Dean Blotto Gray/Natural Selection Tour
Built by professional drone racer and aerial cinematographer Gabriel Kocher, the drones have eight motors, a customized rotating gimbal, full broadcast system and stabilization platform, and can travel at up to 100 miles per hour. Pictured, Danny Davis and a drone in Jackson Hole. Ben Gavelda/Natural Selection Tour
American halfpipe specialist Elena Hight (pictured) took victory in the women's competition at Jackson Hole, while Olympic gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg claimed victory in the men's. Ben Gavelda/Natural Selection Tour
Kocher says that he has to tap into his seven years' experience as a professional drone racer in order to keep up with the riders -- simultaneously predicting their routes, engineering the best possible filming angles, and avoiding the trees dotted across the mountainside. Pictured, Sage Kotsenburg and a drone in Jackson Hole. Owen Tozer/Natural Selection Tour
Alongside Kotsenburg (pictured), the tour boasts a roster of X Games champions and Olympic freestyle riders. According to Rice, it's the "free nature of the venues" and opportunity for "full spectrum snowboarding" that has attracted such a high caliber of competitors. Tim Zimmerman/Natural Selection Tour
The Tour now moves on to Baldface Lodge in British Columbia (February 20 - 27), before the final stop of the season in the Tordrillo Mountain range in Alaska (March 20 - 27). Dean Blotto Gray/Natural Selection Tour