Terje Haakonsen, one of the legends of snowboarding, will join the already illustrious lineup of riders in Red Bull Ultra Natural. Joining him in the final wave of wildcards, announced Monday, are Jussi Oksanen and Bryan Fox.
The three snowboarders complete the contest's field of 16, which include the top eight riders from last year's event (Travis Rice, Gigi Rüf, Nicolas Müller, Lucas Debari, Kazuhiro Kokubo, Jake Blauvelt, David Carrier-Porcheron and Eero Niemela) and four wildcards (Torstein Horgmo, Mikey Rencz, Bode Merrill and Pat Moore) hand-selected by Rice, who created Red Bull Ultra Natural as the ultimate all-mountain contest.
Haakonsen was nominated by Baldface Lodge in Nelson, British Columbia, which will host Red Bull Ultra Natural. Holding days for the one-day event are from February 15-21.
"We gave [Baldface] a nominated spot, and they nominated Terje Haakonsen to bring him back," said Rice in an interview. "And Terje Haakonsen is basically a man who doesn't need an introduction. If we had a godfather in our sport, it would probably be either Craig Kelly or Terje. It's awesome to have Terje, who's still got it.”
The other two final wildcards were nominated by magazines Transworld Snowboarding and Snowboarder. Transworld Snowboarding nominated Oksanen.
"It's an honor to be nominated. I saw last year's event and it was incredible so I'm really excited and looking forward to going," Oksanen told Transworld Snowboarding.
"I've been watching it on TV and it looks fun as hell. But I know once you get there it’s probably a lot more intimidating. Especially when you see the guys jump off and they go like, 100 miles per hour afterward. You're like, 'Holy shit, that’s pretty steep.'"
Snowboarder magazine tapped Fox.
"I think he's a brilliant choice because he's a straight snow ninja," said Rice. "But he's definitely lived on the more alternative side of mainstream snowboarding. He's a snowboarder's snowboarder. He's one of my personal favorite riders out there and I was over the moon when I heard that they nominated him."
Rice adds that anyone can take the contest. "It's not really like going into a halfpipe contest or a slopestyle event where you have a pretty good idea who's going to be on the podium," he said. "This event is really... anyone can take it. It depends who's having their day.”
Red Bull Ultra Natural Invited Riders:
Red Bull Ultra Natural runs from February 15-21. It will air on NBC as part of the Red Bull Signature Series on March 30 at 1:30 p.m. ET / 10:30 a.m. PT.
- Red Bull Ultra Natural: A New Breed of All-Mountain Snowboarding
- Travis Rice Approved: Meet the Red Bull Ultra Natural Wildcards
- Listen to 'The Art of FLIGHT' soundtrack right now