Cole McDonald skis his way onto the World Cup podium for the first time

Park City moguls skier finishes third in France

Park City moguls skier Cole McDonald is set to compete on his home course at Deer Valley this week.
David Jackson/Park Record

Park City moguls skier Cole McDonald was off to a fast start this season on the World Cup circuit heading into a stop in Alpe d’Huez, France, but he was missing one thing: a podium finish. 

McDonald had previously scored several top-10 results, including coming in fourth twice, but his first top-three finish at a World Cup event continued to escape him. At the previous moguls event in Idre Fjall, Sweden, McDonald qualified for the final round with the highest score, but he ended up coming in fifth. 

But McDonald’s quest for his first World Cup podium finally came to an end on Dec. 16 in Alpe d’Huez when he finished his moguls event in third place with a score of 75.17. Ikuma Horishima of Japan took first place, while Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury finished in second. 

A special day for McDonald was even sweeter because some of his family was there to see it. He said his father and his grandparents made the trip. 

“Felt amazing,” McDonald said. “Something that was definitely a big goal of mine this year. Being able to do it, especially (because) I had my family there watching. And being able to do it in front of them was even more amazing.”

McDonald qualified for the first finals round and barely made his way into the second finals round, coming in sixth to make the six-man field. Because of how close he cut it, McDonald knew what he would have to do if he wanted to compete for a podium position.

“I barely squeaked into that super final in sixth place, and I knew I had to put down a super fast, aggressive run to be able to get onto the podium,” McDonald said. 

That’s exactly what McDonald did. He ripped through the course in 19.98 seconds, registering the fastest time of the super final and finishing as the only one of the six skiers to record a time below 20 seconds. He stayed focused on attacking the course, even if he was a little out of control at times.

“I landed the jump on top air and wasn’t really in much control and just had to kind of hang on the whole way down so I wouldn’t crash,” McDonald said. “Ended up putting down a run. Wasn’t the best score whatsoever, but it was holding. And as I kept watching everybody come down after me, people were making mistakes, and I started getting pretty lucky and ended up with that third place.”

Cole McDonald goes off a jump and performs a trick during a World Cup event at Deer Valley in February.

McDonald complemented his fast time with a double full on the first jump and a cork 1080 on the second. While he sees room for improvement, his fast, aggressive approach paid off. 

“I had to go super fast,” McDonald said. “And although it wasn’t the cleanest run I’ve had in Alpe d’Huez – it was not the cleanest – but it definitely was one of the fastest and most aggressive runs that day and with the highest trick scores as well.”

McDonald finished his trip to France with a 17th-place finish in dual moguls the next day. Heading into the 2023 slate of the schedule, he sits in fifth place in the overall moguls standings, fourth in moguls and eighth in dual moguls. 

“So far, it’s been a really good and consistent start to the season,” he said. “I have made every singles final so far this season and two super finals as well. Basically, so far this year, I’ve had a chance at the podium basically every single event. I’m having a lot more consistent results this year.” 

McDonald hopes to make his way into the top three of the World Cup standings and land on the podium more this year. But he’s also focusing on the world championships in February.

“Aside from an Olympic gold medal, that’s a step down from there to become a world champion,” he said. “That’s a big goal and the biggest competition we have so far this year.”

McDonald’s start to the season is a big step from last year, when he went from being named to the development team to making his World Cup debut and then competing on the circuit full time and making his Olympic debut in February. Now, he’s trying to establish himself among the world’s best moguls skiers. 

“It’s pretty crazy,” McDonald said. “Last year, most of the time I was just going to try to make finals. And now, we’re skiing for the win and for the podium, so it’s such a huge change. I was kind of like a smaller name out there, not as big. This year, I’m top five already and one of the big names out there. It’s pretty crazy.”


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