It’s considered by many to be the most dangerous inbound ski run in the world.
So, it’s only natural that Red Bull would sponsor a competition at Jackson Hole’s Corbet's Couloir, where the pros and local kamikazes can make a mockery of mere mortals by sending backflips and other high-risk, progressive manoeuvres off a 20-foot cliff that would turn even most seasoned skiers and snowboarders whiter than the fluffy stuff falling from the sky.
The prestigious single-day event pits 24 of the world's top skiers and snowboarders against each other to compete for the title of "King or Queen of Corbet's." Each competitor gets two runs. The best one counts toward the grand prize in a winner-takes-all format that is peer-judged by the very competitors that put it all on the line.
With a solid contingent of seasoned pros and local legends in the mix, the competition holds serious clout in the world of winter sport. Last year’s winners were none other than Cait Zeliff (who has topped the women’s podium on both occasions since the competition's inauguration in 2018), and Travis Rice.
As America’s most notorious ski run, Corbet's Couloir in Wyoming’s world-renowned Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is known for its near-vertical entrance, ridiculously steep pitch and challenging run-out. The vertical entry forces competitors to huck themselves into the couloir, creating a spectacle for onlookers and a heart-pumping task for riders. Assuming they stomp the landing, riders then have to negotiate the slope as it 'flattens' to a more 'manageable' 50 degrees (keeping in mind that most black runs are around 30 and snow generally won’t stick to a slope over 75 degrees) before boosting through the run-out at an average of 40 degrees.
For those looking to brush up on their French mountain lingo, the word couloir (which translates to 'corridor' in English) refers to a vertical crevasse in a mountain mass. Often hemmed in by sheer cliff walls, couloirs present rugged and unique natural features for experienced riders to challenge themselves with.
Jackson Hole resort utilises a six-day window (from February 10-15 in 2020) to pick the eyes out of conditions, with officials scouring forecasts and reports for the day with the best combination of snow and visibility to optimise the experience of both athletes and the assembled masses. In the run-up, the resort closes Corbet's to create optimal (powder stacked) conditions for riders.
*UPDATE* The event has been called ON for February 11th (MST), hit the links below for a live stream.
When the event is called ON, eager observers can watch it all go down from below the famed couloir, in Tensleep Bowl. However, the mountain is so steep that the resort does remind spectators that there's no beginner or intermediate terrain from the spectator venue down to the bottom of the mountain. So even the punters need to be able to hold their own in the steep and deep if they want to get up close to the action.
For those of us destined to remain office or couch-bound during the event, you can check out a live stream on jacksonhole.com or Red Bull TV. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will be updating the event status each afternoon during the competition window on their official site and social channels. Keep an eye out to catch the action from what promises to be one hell of a show.
In the meantime, get amped on The Evolution of Corbet's Couloir below.