By Morgan Tilton
The Ultimate Game for Snow and Beer Lovers
Gelande quaffing is a dream-come-true competition for snow-obsessed mountain dwellers and visitors. The annual “sporting” event is a ski and snowboarder’s iteration of the football lover’s Super Bowl—however, the game includes a higher density of beer, fireworks, smoke, wild creatures, party tricks, costumes and hula hoops.
Photo: Amy Jimmerson
Two teammates stand at the end of 10-foot long bar tops. One slides a beer down the smooth surface and when the glass leaves the table, the other teammate catches the brew mid-flight to quickly guzzle it down. Between each catch, tricks are added, which accumulate more points. Only sixteen teams are allowed to compete at the World Championship game, held each year at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. As the competition progresses, teams are either eliminated—or disqualified, such as for premature pitches or for “wearing” the beer instead of drinking it. The last team standing is crowned GQ World Champion.
How It Began
In the 1980s, a core crew of local expert skiers in the Tetons—dubbed the Jackson Hole Air Force—was waiting for the lift to open at the Bear Claw Café during a mega snowstorm that dropped 14 feet of powder, according to the folklore.
The excitement and anticipation of carving into the deep snow inspired what would become gelande quaffing: the bartender slid a foam-capped mug of beer down the countertop, the glass flew off the edge, and one JH Air Force member caught the flying beverage followed by hearty consumption—all before the glass shattered on the floor.
The crowd’s elation bore one of the greatest games of all skiers’ time: to throw beer, catch beer, drink beer and repeat.
“When Pepi Steigler used to jump, they’d say, ‘gelandespring,’…quaffing is when you slam your beer…, so we called it ‘gelande quaffing,” Howard Henderson explained in the documentary, Swift. Silent. Deep., a film that chronicles the evolution of the hardcore ski culture in the U.S. and the roots of the Jackson Hole Air Force, as shared by Powder Magazine.
- Four people per team
- 3, 1-minute rounds; 2-minute final round
- Quaffer must stand two feet from edge of table
- Rotate pitcher and quaffer per pitch
- Round One: 1 point per regular catch; 2 points for a handle catch
- Round Two: Quaffer must spin a 360 post-pitch
- Round Three: Quaffer must spin a 360 or do an under-the-leg catch
Finals: Complete one catch of each: handle, 360, under the leg. After the three required catches, the freestyle segment begins to earn points: 1 point per handle catch; 2 points for a 360 handle-catch or under-the-leg; 0-5 points for freestyle (props, performances, costumes, stunts, party tricks, and various consumables permitted).
The 2017 Ninth Annual Gelande Quaffing World Championships will feature 16 teams and cheers from hundreds of spectators.
At past events, incredible competitors have traveled from states far and wide—including Washington, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, California, and Whistler—to throw down their moves at the GQ Worlds, in March.
Visit the Gelande Quaff Facebook page and the Village Café website for more details and announcements regarding sub-regional qualifiers, in February.
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com managing the website and blog content, I couldn't be happier. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.