People come to Kings & Queens of Corbet’s to do so much more than simply compete. Since the contest is held on natural terrain (the iconic couloir at the top of Jackson Hole Resort) there is a week-long weather window so that the athletes can pick the most ideal conditions for the contest day. With the competition itself being a single-day… that leaves the whole rest of the week for all the riders and press to enjoy what Jackson Hole has to offer… which is a giant mountain packed with amazing terrain. According to competitor Grant Giller, “The reason you come to Kings & Queens is not just the contest. It's an amazing week of doing fun stuff”. I couldn’t agree more.
Go out of the gates at the resort and you have access to some of the best backcountry in the US. Most of the riders brought their sleds, so while you’re in the Tetons for the week you might as well get some filming done. However you don’t have to go beyond the resort boundary. On Monday, the day before the contest, we all woke up to a foot of fresh powder… which of course is good for the landing in Corbet’s… but also good for endless smiles while making pow turns with friends.
Being a part of the media crew while here we had Eric Henderson, more affectionately known as Hende, of Meteorite PR as our host for the week. Lucky for all of us Hende used to be a guide in Jackson Hole… and everyone knows it is always best to have a local/someone who knows the mountain really well lead you around on a powder day. Living in Southern California, all my days on snow have been at Big Bear this year… so my legs were toast after contending with a foot of fresh powder all morning. But when Hende suggests you do some hiking to get to even better turns, you say yes. My exhaustion melted into an ear to ear smile after floating down the Head Wall.
Kings & Queens is one of the few contests in which skiers and snowboarders are pitted against each other, vying for the same podium spots. In this situation, there are two sides to that coin… on one hand different terrain can be easier for one side to navigate leaving them with a slight advantage. Due to the way your body is oriented on skis, it is easier to throw, a backflip for example, into the couloir than on a board. That being said, none of the athletes seemed to mind being put up against each other… in fact they embraced it. One of the skiers in the competition, Corey Jackson, was seen rolling around the mountain on a snowboard with Cooper Branham and a crew of other riders, and was actually holding his own.
One night we spent an evening at the headquarters for Teton Gravity in town where we learned a little more about their story. They represent another instance where the hard-drawn lines of skiers and snowboarders are blurred. Initially known for ski films, they have also put out a handful of snowboard movies over the years, most notably with big mountain Jeremy Jones. When I spoke with TGR’s co-founder Todd Jones he mentioned, “the divide between skiers and snowboards in Jackson Hole is non-existent, so it makes sense that an event like Kings & Queens is held here”.
On the last night everyone was in town, a dinner and awards ceremony was held in the lodge at the top of the Bridger gondola. After it was all said and done, the podiums were swept by the skiers this year with the exception of Sarka Pancochova taking 3rd place for the Queens. Grant Giller was the only snowboarder who made it into the top five for the Kings. For a concise breakdown of the contest you can check out the recap article here. Otherwise, you can buckle up and watch the contest in it’s entirety in the video above.
People Choice award is still up for grabs so be sure to go cast your vote before the end of the day on February 15th here!
Words and photos: Laura Austin