If there is an apt way to describe the inaugural Kings and Queens of Jackson Hole, men’s champion Karl Fostvedt says it best: “Just letting ‘er buck.”
The event, held on February 3 at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY, brought 25 of the best skiers in the world to the top of Corbet’s Couloir. The rules were simple enough: each athlete—which included both skiers and snowboarders—had two attempts to boost into the couloir and stomp their trick, before ripping out the rest of the chute to a finish line below. Each run was scored on creativity, style and amplitude, and it didn’t take long to see the contestants were fully embracing the unique and rowdy nature of the event. Runner-up Sander Hadley spun a monstrous double flatspin, Teton Brown two attempts at double backflips, and Veronica Paulsen, Kenzie Lisac and Sophia Schwartz threw three back-to-back backflip attempts.
“It’s exciting that there’s this new twist on competition skiing,” says Caite Zeliff, who won the women’s division with a huge straight air for run one and a stylish shifty on run two. “I ski in the Freeride World Qualifying tour, so this was refreshing; a brand-new venue, and having it peer-judged is such a cool way to put on an event. It felt like it pumped some new life into big mountain skiing.”
Kings and Queens was indeed unique compared to its counterparts in the freeride competition world, and not just with the venue and peer judges. To ensure the couloir would be in prime conditions, the actual event was given a sizeable five-day weather window, meaning more time for pow to fall—which it term means softer landings and higher motivation levels.
“I really like having that much space for a one-day event,” says Fostvedt, who won by stomping a huge 720 in the couloir, followed by a backflip off a hit down below. “They’re not just putting athletes on top of a gnarly face in terrible conditions and saying ‘Well, sorry, this is our window so you just gotta send it.’”
The format worked. A storm left the couloir soft for landings, and the athletes went full-send on their own volition. While Zeliff and Fostvedt both agreed everything was organized beautifully, it was that natural stoke—and the rare opportunity to ski Corbet’s after it’s been closed to the public for a few days—is what they’d be coming back for next year.
“I was mostly blown away by how positive it was,” Zeliff says. “It’s been a tough season for some places as far as snow goes. To have everyone come together and get so fired up about something as cool as Corbet’s was great for the community. I’d do it again just because of that.”
Kara Munsey took runner-up on the women’s side after stomping a huge air from the skier’s left drop in. One of the most memorable hits was local Jeff Leger’s massive swan dive front flip, also from the skier’s left drop in. The video clip blew up on social media, both for the enormity of the airtime and the cringe-worthy backslap landing
Some hits were clearly calculated in advance, such as Brown’s two double backflips, but many of the participants seemed to be playing off the excitement and amplitude of their fellow athletes. Others, like Fostvedt, just went with the flow and whatever trick felt right.
“Literally everything that day was spur of the moment,” he says. “I had no plan on a run or trick or takeoff. I just thought, ‘Let’s try the 720 and go for broke,’ and I didn’t have any plan to flip the lower hit either. It was just about letting ‘er buck and letting the subconscious take over.”
Full results for the event are listed below:
1. Karl Fostvedt
2. Sander Hadley
3. Mikey Marohn
4. Forrest Jillson
5. Hans Mindnich
6. Griffin Post
7. Cam Fitzpatrick
8. Blaine Gallivan
9. Blake Paul
10. Mike King
11. Jeff Leger
12. Teton Brown
13. Chris Logan
14. Ryan Cruz
15. Mark Carter
16. Coen Bennie- Faull
17. Rob Kingwill
18. Griffin Dunne