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We interrupt your regularly scheduled Olympic program to bring you this news: Not all of the world’s best freeskiers are in Beijing right now. Instead, 24 of them have descended on Jackson Hole, Wyo. to huck their meat off the resort’s most famous feature in the fifth annual Kings and Queens of Corbet’s competition on Thursday, Feb. 17. The ski and snowboard freeride invitational will kick off at 10 a.m. MST and will be streamed live for free and in its entirety exclusively through Red Bull TV on jacksonhole.com.
It all started back in 2018, when Jackson Hole locals and freeskiing royalty Jess McMillan and Griffin Post somehow convinced Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to rope off Corbet’s Couloir for two weeks and sanction the insanity that has quickly become one of the most-hyped, most-watched freeskiing competitions in our sport.
The premise is simple: a mix of seasoned pros and local shredders launch themselves off the top of Corbet’s and into the couloir below. Afterwards, the athletes watch the event replay and judge all the runs themselves as a cohort, rewarding the most show-stopping airs and cleanest runouts and ultimately crowning one King and Queen of Corbet’s. It’s proven to be a test of daring and sheer athleticism as much as skill as rider after rider sail 10 to 30 feet—frontwards, backwards, and upside down–into the 40-plus-degree pitch below in hopes of landing on their feet and skiing, unscathed, into the finish area.
The competition has grown in size and popularity every year since its inception, but this year promises to deliver an even bigger show thanks to a star-studded athlete roster headlined by 2021 King Karl Fostvedt and Queen Madison Blackley and the likes of Tim Durtschi, Parkin Costain, and Jake Hopfinger. And this year, for the first time ever, fans and audiences following the action via Red Bull’s live stream will be able to vote for their favorite run or competitor to elect the competition’s inaugural People’s Choice award-winner.
As we said, this year’s comp is going to be lit, not least of all because the current low tide across most of the West is sure to make for some exceptionally spicey conditions in Corbet’s. Which begs the question: Will the athletes send just as hard as in years past?
“Conditions are firm,” McMillan warned athletes during the athlete bib drawing and welcome event on Saturday, Feb. 12. “It’s snowed 10 inches in the last 30 days, but our park crew has done a fantastic job [preparing the venue]. We’ve always been prepared for a low snow year, and in my mind, it could be the most badass, steepest slopestyle competition we’ve ever seen.”
In an effort to coax competitors off the main ledge into Corbet’s, or at least give them more opportunities to show off their tricks below, the JHMR park team has devised new features in the apron and a massive kicker right before the finish to give competitors more—and perhaps, safer—options for sending it.
Bigger sends or not, this year’s Kings and Queens of Corbet’s is a guaranteed good time for competitors and viewers alike. While there’s a sizable cash purse and bragging rights at stake, at the end of the day what makes this freeride comp unique is its celebration of community and progression. Yes, competitors triple-dog-dare each other to send it and send it big, but not to see their peers fail—it’s to see them rise to the occasion, stomp something mind-blowing, and once again raise the bar for what’s possible in our sport.
As McMillan told the competitors before heading into the event: “I want the athletes to take a moment and think about what they want to showcase and how they want to showcase it, knowing that this is about bringing people together and about the progression of the sport.”
Kings and Queens of Corbet’s is not just another freeskiing competition, she’s saying. It’s where you go to see the avant-garde.
This year’s event has been confirmed for Thursday, Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. MST. Tune in to watch the action live and don’t forget to vote on your favorite run for this years’ People’s Choice Award during and after the show. For the latest updates and more information visit redbull.com/kingsandqueensofcorbets.