Nick Page and Cole McDonald enter home World Cup as contenders |

Nick Page and Cole McDonald enter home World Cup as contenders

Both Parkites are in the top 6 in the overall moguls standings

Nick Page, pictured, skis down Champion at Deer Valley Resort. Page and fellow Parkite Cole McDonald are both in the top six of the overall moguls World Cup standings heading into this week's stop at Deer Valley.
Park Record file photo

Park City moguls skier Nick Page remembers what it was like competing under the lights on Champion, a run he likely skied hundreds if not thousands of times growing up, at Deer Valley Resort for the first time at the World Cup level, like it was yesterday.

It was back in 2020, just a month before the world was flipped upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. He was still getting used to skiing on the World Cup circuit and was making his first-ever appearance in the finals of a World Cup event. Page, who was once the kid who went to Deer Valley every year growing up to watch the best freestyle skiers in the world from the bottom of Champion and chased after autographs, was doing what so many local skiers dream of accomplishing: skiing under the lights at Deer Valley.

“I’m excited to get back there because that feeling, that crowd, that energy, I’ve never felt the same thing since that,” Page said. 

That’s high praise from Page, who has competed in moguls competitions across the globe in the three years since that first finals run at Deer Valley, including the Olympics. But a lot has changed since then for the 20-year-old and fellow Park City moguls skier Cole McDonald, 19.

When the 2023 Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International Ski World Cup kicks off on Thursday with a moguls event, it’s no longer just about having the honor of competing at Deer Valley – it’s about contending for a podium spot, or even winning. 

Page and McDonald, who make up the two-man U.S. men’s moguls team outside of the development team, are now two of the top moguls skiers in the world. Page is fourth in the overall World Cup standings and McDonald is on his heels in sixth. 

“It’s kind of evolved into, you know, now every start, every event, there’s one goal, and that’s to win,” Page said. “It isn’t coming in looking for a top-10 (finish). It isn’t (starting) an event thinking, ‘Man, I hope I can make a super final.’ There’s one thing on my mind when I start that event, and Deer Valley will be no different this year. Except the stakes are maybe a little higher because it’s the hometown, it’s the course I learned to kind of ski on.”

For Page, it’s the first “normal” World Cup event at Deer Valley since his initial one in 2020. The 2021 event was held without fans due to the pandemic, and last year’s competitions were held during the day. Pandemic concerns were still high last year, especially with the Olympics right around the corner. 

“I remember finishing my run, being pretty happy with it and not being able to hug all my super close friends,” McDonald said. “It just wasn’t quite how I remembered it watching it growing up. This year, it’s going to be a huge change for sure.”

Last year’s event was McDonald’s first competitive World Cup experience at Deer Valley, one of many milestones he accomplished in a short span. McDonald’s first year on the circuit also included his World Cup debut, a trip to the Olympics, Rookie of the Year honors and a gold medal at the junior world championships. But he’s hoping to check off one more major milestone: qualifying for the finals at Deer Valley and competing under the lights. 

“There’s definitely a lot of pressure to get into the top 16 because, as I said, it’s been a lifelong dream to compete under those lights in front of the home crowd,” McDonald said. “Getting into that final is going to be really important and definitely a little bit more pressure, but I think it should be no problem.”

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

Between being the only two men on the men’s moguls team, hailing from the same hometown and ski team – both grew up skiing for Wasatch Freestyle – and being similar ages, the two will always be linked. But that’s been the case for a while now. For instance, when McDonald won his gold medal in moguls at the junior world championships last March, Page came back three days later to take first in dual moguls.

“Thinking back to when we were 8, 9 years old, making little videos on Champion, I think it took us a minute to get down the run,” Page said. “To now, fighting it out with, really, what are the best skiers in the world, and we’re at the level now, too. Being able to be in that mix, not just trying to crack into it, is really cool.”

The two have been roommates on the road before, though Page said there’s a rotation. Their relationship looks like a pretty typical friendship between two young men. It just so happens that they’re both elite freestyle skiers.

“We like just hanging out, playing video games and stuff like that,” McDonald said. “But a lot of the time, we’re talking about skiing and just trying to push each other. Figure out things together that we’re both struggling with, so we can help each other out when it comes to performing in the gate and kind of beating each other at our best.”

“You always have someone to go to and to talk to if there’s something, or even it’s just hanging out and passing time and joking around and playing video games,” Page added. “It’s nice always knowing you have those people there, and Cole’s definitely one of them.”

As big as the 2021-22 season was for both Park City skiers between the Olympics, World Cups and junior world championships, they have broken out in a big way this season. Page scored his first World Cup win in Idre Fjall, Sweden, in December, and has finished in the top six in five of his seven World Cup starts this year. McDonald’s first World Cup podium came in a third-place finish in the following stop in Alpe d’Huez, France, and he has five top-10 results this year. 

“Last year, every run pretty much was kind of, have to give it your all to just make it into that top 16,” McDonald said. “This year, it’s pretty much a standard to have to make that top 16 for me and then have to perform in the final round there. It’s definitely a whole new level of competition this year, and a lot higher standards than I’ve set for myself in this event.”

Last year’s trip to Deer Valley left a sour taste in Page’s mouth, and it’s a major motivator for him this year. He finished the qualification round of the first of two moguls events at Deer Valley last year in second place, but he pulled himself out of the rest of the competition after a fall in training as a precaution – especially with the Olympics around the corner – as well as the second moguls competition. He’s hoping for a much smoother experience this year.

“I think I’ve had that image in my mind since last year of stepping in that gate with a chance to win here at Deer Valley,” Page said. “I look forward to doing everything I can to get back into that position this year.” 

McDonald came in 14th and 15th in the two moguls events last year. In addition to higher expectations and hopes to have his first experience under the lights at Deer Valley, he’s looking forward to having his family there to cheer him on.

“I’ve got a bunch of family coming out, I’ve got my grandparents coming out, just everybody,” McDonald said. “I think just being able to celebrate everything with them down at the bottom is going to be one of my favorite parts this year. … Really just getting that full Deer Valley experience, being able to hang out at the bottom with that ginormous crowd down there and have them cheer me on.”

For an event that is the quintessential winter sports event every year in Park City, it’s only fitting that two Park City skiers have the opportunity to put on a show. 

“We’re both really excited, and it’s fun coming back here and kind of reliving all of what Deer Valley, this town, this mountain have done for us,” Page said.

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