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RECAP: Kings & Queens of Corbet’s Returns for 2023

Adam Jaber February 17, 2023

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RECAP: Kings & Queens of Corbet’s Returns for 2023

On Tuesday, February 7th, 24 ski & snowboard athletes took the stage on one of the most iconic runs in the world as it plays host again for the huckfest that is Kings & Queens of Corbet’s.

In years past, the event has had live stream coverage for the entirety of the competition. For ’23, due to costs, habitually spotty streams, and various other reasons, the full recap won’t air until next week. Don’t fret, we’ve got some coverage for those frothing to see what went down, now.

The Format

On Saturday Evening, a draw was had to decide the drop order for the actual event day, which could have taken place any time in the weather window from the 5th-10th. There’s a benefit to starting early on in the order, especially given the fact that the couloir would get loaded with untouched snow just a day later. Fan-favorite, Alex Hackel drew the number one spot. Sort of hilarious, given the fact that he had not only never skied into Corbet’s but had never set foot on JHMR ever. Snowboarder Nial Romanek drew the 24th spot.

There were to be two runs per competitor, only one of them being mandatory. Skiers & Riders were not allowed to ski the line ahead of time, meaning no practice runs, just dropping in completely blind. At the 9 AM kick-off the morning of the event, riders are allowed to build their in-runs.

Weather is always the biggest point of contention during events like these, so hitting the weather window right is crucial. Bad weather in that terrain can shut the whole event down in a heartbeat.

Game Time By Adam Sauerwein

Kings & Queens COMP DAY

Nerves at the lip were palpable. I can’t think of many events off the top of my head that give off the same aura at the start gate as this one. It’s giving Freeride World Tour vibes, except line choice is much more limited by the giant walls outlining the couloir.

Building in runs was the primary first step for all of the athletes on site. Many of them had an idea of what they wanted to do, and many of them have absolutely no clue. Veronica Paulsen, who’s a 5-time K&Q vet, knew exactly what she wanted. Piper Kunst is very much the opposite. “There was a plan… plan 1-3,” she told me, though later told me she was going to do whatever felt right in the moment. Others seemed to be all over the map. Everyone, to an extent, knows what they’re capable of, but no one knows what the conditions will permit when their number is called.

Yuki by Adam Sauerwein

After an hour of building, Jackson Hole Ski Patrollers gathered up the group to go over the weather window, and the safety procedures, and to ask one last time, if anyone wanted to bail out of the competition. No takers, though I’m pretty positive I saw Blake Wilson’s hand shoot up in jest.

Alex Hackel drops first, and at this point in the morning it was still pretty thick at the top of the start gate. Check that photo below. A short window opened where it made sense to kick it off, and so he did with a widespread hand drag 360, resulting in a bit of a bomb hole.

Kings and Queens
Hackel’s Drop #1

Drop two saw Jake Hopfinger blow up a massive hole when he sent a double backflip off of the lip into seemingly nowhere. At this point, it became pretty clear that landing clean runs were going to be a tall task, especially with the level that this group was performing.

Kings & Queens
Photo By Adam Sauerwein

The runs went on and on, with a number of them being particularly impressive, including a near-perfect run for Colby Stevenson. Claire McPherson also completed a clean run in her first K & Q.

As usual, Piper & Veronica pushed the bar for freeride skiing even further than in previous years. Piper took the creative line, riding the west wall of the Coulair from the top down as her entry.

The first woman to ever throw a backflip into Corbet’s also became the first to send a double. While VP didn’t “land” it,  run two saw her take it all the way around and to her feet, and even rode away from it, albeit out of her body-shaped hole in the snow. This is a reminder that Veronica is a Kings and Queens legend.


The Results

Men’s Podium:

  1. Colby Stevenson
  2. Blake Wilson
  3. Alex Hackel

Women’s Podium

  1. Claire McPherson
  2. Piper Kunst
  3. Sarka Pancochova


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