JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING
Had Caite Zeliff become the World Cup ski racer she was poised to be, she could have missed out on earning one of the most hardcore titles in freeskiing: Queen of Corbet’s Couloir. In 2018, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort hosted the inaugural Kings and Queens of Corbet’s—a freeride competition that sends 25 skiers and riders off a large cornice and into the legendary 45-degree chute “Corbet’s Couloir.” As Freeskier Magazine said, Caite “tweaked her massive couloir drop with a shifty and pieced together a near-perfect run from top to bottom.”
After winning the highly publicized event, Caite’s life changed dramatically. The ski instructor and server gained sponsorships from The North Face, Blizzard and Tecnica. Magazine stories were written and Warren Miller invited her to ski for its annual film. She followed up her Corbet’s title the following year with an even bigger straight air shifty and a crowd pleasing spread eagle near the finish. The performance solidified her place in Jackson Hole lore.
Caite grew up among deep ski roots. The ski club in her hometown of North Conway, New Hampshire dates back to the 1930’s and her local ski hill, Cranmore Mountain Resort, boasts the country’s first ski hill. Raised by a single mom who wasn’t a skier, it took a school program that brought kids to the mountain once a week and a family friend who introduced her to ski racing to get Caite hooked on skiing. She won the first race she signed up for at age 11. With a goal of making the U.S. Ski Team, she attended Proctor Academy in Andover, New Hampshire (where she was moved into the headmaster’s house in an effort to tame her wild ways), then an extra year of high school at Stratton Mountain School. When she didn’t make the U.S. Ski Team, she joined the Division 1 ski team at University of New Hampshire but tore her ACL her freshman year. Caite now looks back at the injury with appreciation. She dropped out of school and moved to Jackson Hole.
She won her first competition in 2015—The North Face Frontier, a Freeride World Tour (FWT) qualifying event. With the guts for big cliffs and the talent to land them, she hit her stride in big-mountain competitions, competing on the Freeride World Qualifying Tour for TK years. She’s now filmed with Teton Gravity Research in addition to Warren Miller.
With a mantra of “Hold It Wide Open (HIWO),” a motorcycle term that refers to holding the throttle open, Caite lives her life to the fullest. Jackson Hole and the Tetons provide her with all the training grounds and inspiring peers she needs to take her skiing as far as she wants. With a newfound love for paragliding and snowmobile skiing, Caite looks forward to accessing her home range and beyond by new and creative means.
- 2x Queen of Corbets
- 1st, Nendaz Freeride 2* FWQ, 2018
- “Timeless,” Warren Miller 2019
- “Make Believe,” Teton Gravity Research, 2020
- Grand Teton ski descent, 2018