Breckenridge’s Benji Farrow sends double backflip at Kings and Queens of Corbet’s contest
Breckenridge local pro snowboarder Benji Farrow had been to the famed Corbet’s Couloir at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort only once before Thursday. And on that previous trip to the couloir, the former U.S. Pro Snowboard Team member didn’t send it into the icy, cavernous conditions below.
Thursday was another story. Farrow sent a double backflip, which has yet to be landed by a snowboarder in the competition, into the menacing in-bounds terrain in Wyoming. Farrow did so twice as part of his rookie participation in Red Bull and Jackson Hole’s Kings and Queens of Corbet’s big-mountain ski and snowboard event, which has become one of the most revered competitions by ski and snowboard fans and pros alike.
“Corbet’s is really gnarly, and I think everyone in the industry recognizes that,” Farrow said. “So being able to take part in this event is an honor in itself. Just, like, jumping into Corbet’s is considered pretty insane, much less doing a crazy trick and much less landing. It’s really hard to land something because you’re dropping 30-40 feet and traveling 60 feet down the hill.”
At Thursday’s competition — which will be broadcast at 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, on Red Bull TV — Farrow’s double backflip into 6 feet of stiff powder was the second ever attempt of the trick by a snowboarder. Farrow said the challenge of trying to land that trick was especially difficult Thursday considering the flat light.
“Imagine one of the chutes on the East Wall at Arapahoe Basin (Ski Area) with a mandatory minimum of a 20-foot drop before it,” Farrow said, offering a Summit County equivalent of Corbet’s.
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Farrow and other male and female contestants took a 7:30 a.m. tram to the top of Corbet’s on Thursday to get their first glimpse of the couloir. From there, the athletes worked together to prepare as individuals and as a group for the one-of-a-kind experience. That included looking at drone footage of the conditions inside the couloir, chucking snowballs into the hole to see how their bodies and boards would react to the conditions and sculpting the lip of the takeoff at the top of the chute.
Farrow said the athletes realized wind-blown snow had made the landing more difficult and less fluffy, to the point where many athletes — including Farrow — had their boards enveloped by the snow, sending their bodies tomahawking down the chute.
In the days leading up to the contest, as athletes waited for Jackson Hole to give the green light, Farrow had different ideas of tricks he wanted to try. The double backflip was a game-time decision for Farrow, who dropped in sixth, meaning his landing would be somewhat fresh.
After watching two skiers try double backflips, he gave it a go. On that first attempt, Farrow said he slipped a little too fast off the takeoff, with a bit too much aggressiveness. While inverted on his first flip, he realized his predicament and opened up to slow down. But by the time he went to land, though his board was positioned straight, his torso wasn’t, leading to the tomahawk and loss of his GoPro camera.
Farrow’s second attempt went much better, but by then, all skiers and riders had launched into the couloir, changing the nature of the landing. Farrow did the best he could to land, wheelieing on the back of his board for 20 feet. Ultimately, he couldn’t avoid sitting back on his butt with all the chunder snow beneath him.
Farrow cruised down to the finish area and didn’t really hit any of the five slopestyle-like features scattered across the bottom of the course beneath the couloir. He said he hopes to be back next year to try the double backflip again and the rest of the course.
Farrow — who is filming a movie with Summit locals Asher Humphreys and Sy Moran — said events like Kings and Queens and Natural Selection are attracting pro and fan interest because the contests do a really good job of showing who the best, all-around riders are.
Farrow said he would like to see a resort or organization in Summit County step up and create a similar event. The East Wall comes to mind as an ideal spot, but Farrow also mentioned Union Bowl and Tucker Mountain at Copper Mountain Resort as ideal terrain locations where a cool contest could happen if the resort put in the time to develop and build snow features.
“And it’s not in bounds, technically, but Loveland Pass, as well,” Farrow said. “I think Loveland Pass could hold a big-mountain style event, and there’s stuff on that pass to be showcased.”
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