Crude Conversations

EP 086 King of the Hill Part 2 with Competitors Julie Zell and Steve Klassen

March 26, 2021

In this conversation, Cody talks with King of the Hill competitors Julie Zell and Steve Klassen. King of the Hill was a legendary snowboard competition held in Thompson Pass back in the 1990s that hosted a number of different perspectives. There were the partiers, the general participants and the competitors. Julie and Steve were competitors. They were the ones who got up early and made conscious notes of their surroundings and snow conditions. If they partied, they did so sparingly, knowing full-well that the next day they could be deep in the Chugach Mountains, surrounded by variable conditions. For their skill and preparation, Julie and Steve both won King of the Hill multiple times. Steve won twice and Julie won three times.

For both of them, Thompson Pass—during those nascent years of snowboarding—was an outlaw world of guideless backcountry runs, heavy partying and the criminality that King of the Hill attracted. It was far from the world Julie and Steve had come from. In many ways, it represented a more primitive order to life, where everyone was able to adhere to their baser instincts. Today, you can see the lasting impression King of the Hill made on more modern day snowboard competitions like the Verbier stop in the Freeride World Tour and Kings and Queens of Corbet's in Jackson Hole. Although the extracurriculars of those competitions are much more tame and less primitive.

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