Natural Selection and Proving Grounds Join Forces to Empower Rider-Driven Progression in Mountain Biking

Partnership empowers Proving Grounds to run LIVE Sept 10th as riders drop into the innovative Prineville, OR venue.

Photos by Trevor Lyden & Katie Lo

Inspired by terrain and powered by athletes, Proving Grounds and the Natural Selection Tour are forging a partnership to evolve mountain bike competition and foster progression. The partnership will meld what Natural Selection started on snow and what Proving Grounds is accomplishing on dirt to provide both riders and fans with a dynamic experience. In 2022, Natural Selection will bring its cutting-edge broadcast quality, as seen on the EMMY-nominated snowboard tour, to Proving Ground viewers worldwide live on NaturalSelectionTour.com.

“The top creators and riders in mountain biking are creating an incredible property with Proving Grounds. This is very much in line with Natural Selection’s vision of allowing riders to evolve their sport in the best venues with input and collaboration” said pro snowboarder and Natural Selection Tour co-founder Travis Rice. “We looked at outdoor events and sports that have the most potential and where Natural Selection can work with passionate people in ways that can bring their vision to reality. Proving Grounds, like NST, is “by riders for riders,” and we are very excited about offering support to this movement!

The ground-breaking freeride MTB competition featuring the world’s top male and female athletes blurs the line between big mountain and slopestyle riding. As with Natural Selection snowboard events, athletes choose their line to best showcase their personal skill, style, and strengths. Men and women will drop in side-by-side on the same course with equal riding and prize opportunities.

“Proving Grounds is filling the gap in our sport of freeride MTB, an event and future series that in my opinion is necessary for the growth of our sport in the right direction,” said Carson Storch, professional mountain biker and winner of 2021’s Proving Grounds. “I am so stoked to have a platform to compete on a regular basis in the future, and it will be a great inclusive stepping stone for the next generation of talent coming up the ranks. T-Rice and the whole crew at Natural Selection have done a great job embodying the essence of snowboarding in a competitive series, and I have high hopes that this merge will do the same for freeride mountain biking!”

Proving Grounds, much like Natural Selection, is seeking to reimagine what competition can look like. Here athletes are empowered to show what they are capable of, as they choose their own path through huge drops, massive doubles, berm presses and rhythm sections. An extensive reboot and expansion of the venue is planned for this summer, to include even more dynamic features and line possibilities.

“There is a very real mutual admiration between what the Natural Selection and Proving Grounds are creating,” said Todd Barber, founder of Proving Grounds. “What Natural Selection has accomplished in snow; creating a full tour that brings the best snowboarders from across styles of riding together in one dynamic venue is something that mountain biking is also ready for. Looking forward to bringing the NST team’s energy and vision to bike and seeing where riders can take the sport next, as new doors open.”

Todd Barber co-founded Red Bull Rampage, founded Proving Grounds and is one of the founding members of the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour, where he served as president for 6 years. Barber brings 26 years of mountain bike event production experience to the Natural Selection team.

2021 Proving Grounds is set to return once again to hills around Prineville which is just outside of Bend, OR on September 9-11. Bend, OR is situated in central Oregon and has long been a hub for all things adventure. With Mt. Bachelor as its backdrop and over 300 miles of Singletrack it is no wonder the Mountain Bike Action named Bend “the best mountain bike town in the country.” The festival will include both men and women’s pro categories with two days of competition, and other features designed to support the biking community.

About the Natural Selection Tour

The brainchild of snowboarder Travis Rice and shared vision with the broader snowboarding community, the Natural Selection Tour showcases the world’s top riders from Olympians to big mountain film icons all competing on the planet’s most exciting natural(ly) enhanced terrain. Dream venues, a head-to-head format and no practice runs are part of the dynamic components that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. With a mission to inspire people to forge a deeper relationship with Mother Nature, the Tour features three stops in Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming; Alaska Lodge, British Columbia; and the Tordrillo Mountains, Alaska. The Natural Selection Tour culminates with the crowning of a men’s and women’s champion; the best all-mountain freestyle riders in the world.

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