Nick Page, Winter Sports School athlete, qualifies for national moguls team
Nick Page grew up idolizing the U.S. national moguls team. Now he’s a member of it.
The 16-year-old Winter Sports School student was nominated to the team this spring after a breakout season in which he won a NorAm competition outright at Apex in British Columbia in March and took second at U.S. Nationals two weeks later.
He received the phone call from head coach Matt Gnoza that he had made the team while returning home from golfing with his father, Mike.
“It was crazy,” Page said. “I had no really huge expectation that that was going to be a possibility. That news was pretty incredible.”
Page was born in Florida but raised in Park City. At age 7 he joined Wasatch Freestyle and has spent every winter with the team since, moving through its ranks as he progressed.
At 8, he saw video of Bryon Wilson, another Wasatch Freestyle athlete, taking bronze at the 2010 Winter Games.
“I instantly I got super into (moguls skiing),” Page said.
Page said he was also drawn to moguls skiing because of the skills it instills in its competitors.
“The best skiers on the hill come from moguls skiing because they do it all,” he said. “They jump, they ski fast, they can ski really technically well. That was one thing that was always super fun was looking up to these moguls skiers who could ski super well and I wanted to be just like them.”
The inspiration drove him to be a dedicated skier.
Mike said he has watched his son push over plateau after plateau, putting in hundreds of repetitions of tricks off water ramps before trying them on snow. He estimated Nick did upwards of 500 backflips off the water ramps before sticking his first one on snow at age 10.
Page said one of the most inspiring days in his training was watching the Wilson brothers air out double backflips at the Utah Olympic Park’s water ramps when he was 12.
He was in awe, and returned the next week with Brad Wilson (who recently took second in dual moguls at the 2019 FIS Freeski World Championships at Deer Valley) to try one out.
“I tried it and landed right on my face,” Page said. “But that was a huge thing. It pushed me through and tried to get me up to that next level.”
Bryon Wilson, who works closely with Page, also remembers when the young skier first started competing with Wasatch Freestyle.
“He was just a little punk,” Bryon said fondly. “We called him Captain America because he always wore this ski helmet with the Captain America star on it, so his nickname was Cap’n.”
Wilson said moguls skiing didn’t come naturally to Page, but his determination carried him.
“He has to work at it, but he’s willing,” Wilson said.
His hard work has transformed him into one of the most formidable moguls skiers in the world — he’s ranked in the top 40 in the world at age 16, with an affinity for difficult jumps.
Two years ago, while trying to perfect 1080s — a staple move on the World Cup circuit — he started throwing corkscrew 1440s.
“It’s pretty much you count to four in your head then put your feet down,” Page said of the off-axis, four-rotation move. He looks for the back of the jump while starting his tuck after spinning about 180 degrees, then peaks again while starting to unwrap at 1260 degrees.
The spins were meant to help make him more comfortable with the 1080s, but Page felt he could master them well enough to pull one off in competition.
He tried one last year at team trials, but didn’t quite stick the landing. He still finished in the top six.
“He was really the first one to try it in the competition, and there are two other guys who are doing it in the world — Mikael Kingsbury (the winningest moguls skier of all time) and (Japan national skier) Ikuma Horishima,” Wilson said.
Page said he is planning on making the 1440 a part of his competition repertoire this season.
“I’ve been working through it on the water ramps this season,” he said. “The biggest thing is doing it in top-to-bottom runs when it’s full throttle going as fast as I can.”
This past season, it all started to come together for Page.
Early in the season he made it to the finals in two NorAm events, but he said his nerves got the best of him and he was cut before reaching the super final round of six. When he made the finals at the NorAm in Apex, British Columbia, on March 2, he knew to try and calm down instead of exciting himself more.
“I was definitely fired up, but I knew what I needed to do to figure out how to perform when it mattered,” he said.
He relaxed, took a more measured run and qualified in 10th, not first as he had in the competitions he flared out in, then took third in the finals to advance to the super finals, where he laid down another consistent run to place first overall.
It was a big step for Page, and it moved his world ranking up significantly, but not enough for national team coaches to consider him seriously.
The final push that earned him a spot on the team came two weeks later at U.S. Nationals at Waterville Valley, Vermont.
Page qualified in eighth, which put him under pressure to shoot for a high position going into the next round to avoid elimination. He put down a first-place run going into finals.
“I was up there and had it in my head now that it’s really easy to pump myself up too much and make mistakes, so I tried to calm down in the gate,” he said.
Once again he took some breaths and ran a consistent run to take third and earn a spot in the super finals. His competition in the super finals included four current U.S. Ski Team members, and one former member.
He was the fourth of six to go.
“I just laid it all out there,” Page said. “Everything I could do in my control I did, and that’s all I could ask for.”
His score, an 85.13, bumped him into first. Only Jesse Andringa and George McQuinn were after him.
McQuinn’s run was good but not enough to bump Page down — he had secured either first or second. Then Andringa laid down a formidable 87.36, bumping Page into second.
Page got the call to join the national team soon after.
He will start training with the team this summer, though he will continue to work with Wilson, too.
It’s a busy schedule. Last weekend he attended a camp at Snowbird, just to stay sharp. Come June he will depart for a camp in Whistler, British Columbia, then another at Mount Hood in Oregon, then to Chile, followed by a month in Zermatt, Switzerland.
Then it will start — his first true season with the team, when he will don the colors of those he has looked up to for so long.
“To be at that point, it’s kind of crazy to look back and fill that role that I look up to just a couple years ago,” he said.
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.