Ridgelines: Becoming today’s role models
'We each wanted to push each other,' said Page.
Olympian Nick Page dug his shovel into the deep snow, tossing a blade full over the shoulder of his buddy Cole McDonald. It was yet another big powder day at Deer Valley Resort. As skiers whisked their way up the Red Cloud lift, they were a bit confused looking down on the team of athletes below, literally removing snow from a powder-packed ski run.
On a day where guests were relishing a foot or more of fresh powder, Nick and Cole were frantically digging down to reach the frozen moguls of their training run on Three Ply.
“Yah, I think everyone on that chair was leaning out, looking over at me, like, ‘what is this guy doing?’” laughed Page.
Page and McDonald are rising young moguls skiing stars on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. In typical Park City fashion, they met in the local Wasatch Freestyle program back when they were 6 or 7.
“I was super lucky to grow up in Park City,” said McDonald, soon to be 20. “My parents were always looking for something for me to do. I stumbled upon Wasatch Freestyle and immediately fell in love with it.”
“My mom had gone to a mom’s night with some of the kids from my class,” said Page, now 20, who was in a Deer Valley ski school program at the time. “One of them gave her this Wasatch Freestyle brochure. From there it just took off.”
When they were around seven, though, the excitement level of their sport went up when local hero Bryon Wilson won Olympic bronze in Vancouver. Page recalls being in their living room when his dad told him, “Wow, he came from your program. He knows your coach Jon (O’Brien).” “That’s where the light bulb turned on where I was like, I’m watching this person that just did what I want to do!”
“I remember meeting Bryon at an event right after the 2010 Olympics,” said McDonald. “He was a big hero to me. We were standing in the same shoes he once was in and having the idea that I could do the exact same thing!”
Growing up, Page and McDonald got to know Wilson as he would pop in to visit the club. In 2018, he became their coach at Wasatch Freestyle and later at the U.S. Ski Team as they headed to their first Olympics together in Beijing.
With Wilson as their hero, Page and McDonald tracked fast through the Wasatch Freestyle program. They were both good, advancing early into each progression level – usually making them the youngest in the group.
“Nick and I would stick together and just feed off each other – constantly getting better and throwing new stuff. It ignited a really good friendship and good competition environment,” said McDonald.
“We each wanted to push each other,” said Page. “We each wanted to beat each other. But at the same time, we both wanted each other to ski their very best run so we could both kind of keep raising the bar. It’s pretty cool to see how that relationship really kind of skyrocketed our progression.”
Having skied Deer Valley for the better part of their lives, they know the mountain intimately. Aside from the World Cup run Champion, they look for bumps on runs like Three Ply, the big bowl off Empire and, of course, the little moguls run alongside Lost Boulder on Northside. When they hit the mountain for some freeskiing, both of them head to Lady Morgan.
A distinguishing characteristic of both Page and McDonald is their humility and gratitude. Both are quick to acknowledge how they got to where they are today, be that their families, Deer Valley, Olympic medalist Wilson or program leader Jon O’Brien. “He makes a lot of stuff happen for people,” said Page, “and for us especially.”
This week, Page and McDonald will stand atop Champion under the lights, looking down on thousands of fans as the event returns to glory for the first time since 2020.
“It’s always really special at Deer Valley,” said Page. “You put on that bib and feel those butterflies in your stomach, thinking about how big the event is and how much Deer Valley and Wasatch Freestyle have done for us and our careers.”
“Looking down on the crowd, there’s a little bit more nerves going on,” added McDonald. “I mean, that’s the one to win if you’re trying to win a World Cup this year. In my opinion, Deer Valley is probably as important as winning the Olympics. It’s one of the biggest mogul skiing events that you can win.”
While they may not think about it so much in the starting gate, there will be a good number of 6- or 7-year-old Park City kids down below, looking up in awe at their new sport heroes as the cycle of role models continues.
Moguls Tips from Park City’s Stars
Nick Page: “Before you get in there, take a deep breath and understand what your goal is.”
Cole McDonald: “Never be in the backseat — commit to being in the front of the boot and attack. Don’t be defensive.”
Guest editorial: Saving our capital’s namesake, the Great Salt Lake
Utah’s government needs that same commitment to action.
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