In case you missed it, freestyle snow sports don’t look anything like they did a decade ago. Mogul events and aerials are no longer en vogue. Gigantic halfpipes and slopestyle jumps are what’s in — and they are mainstays of the modern terrain park, creating a completely different format for riders to showcase their talents.
At the same time, snowboarding has significantly altered aspects of modern skiing, and the cultures are more closely aligned than ever. Skis are infinitely wider and freeride techniques — inverted aerials with variations on twisting maneuvers — have been adopted by the freeskiing community.
Yes, the game has changed.
This sweeping evolution in the sport has created an environment ripe for freestyle development in the Treasure Valley. Enter Corey McDonald and the Bogus Basin Terrain Park.
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Last year, former Bogus Basin General Manager Alan Moore hired McDonald — or re-hired him — to run Bogus Basin’s revamped terrain park.
McDonald has a passion for building parks. He was a Bogus employee before setting out to work on terrain parks around the country, not to mention some of the sport’s most important events like Snowboarder magazine’s annual Superpark.
McDonald has played an integral role in Boise’s snow culture. For nearly 15 years, the 40-year-old Capital High graduate has organized the annual Carson Ianson Quarterpipe Memorial, a rootsy spring quarterpipe snowboard competition in the mountains near Cascade. He also coaches at High Cascade Snowboard Camp each summer on Mount Hood.
“Growing up in the Valley, there’s never been a (freeride) program, and there are so many kids that are sick,” McDonald said. “My whole focus is to get us in line with facilities on a national level and make sure we build this culture. There are so many kids that want to be involved in both snowboarding and skiing.”
McDonald’s hiring was part of a broader movement toward freeride culture in the Valley.
In 2010, the Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation started a freeride development program called Team Shred that helped transition young riders into the freeride world. That program was created for the BBSEF by Josh Loubek, a former pro skier and Olympic judge who helped create the Association of Freeski Professionals, a veritable union for pro skiers.
McDonald took over that program from Loubek, and this is the first year Team Shred will employ a coach for snowboard and ski disciplines. Sponsors have joined the movement as well. Mike Teschner at Eco Lounge runs the Idaho Snow Sports Association, which has helped push athletes up to the Bogus Basin Terrain Park. McDonald said Mountain Dew and the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation have committed funds to support the park.
That funding was one reason Bogus Basin was able to meet McDonald’s most important condition for returning to work at the mountain — he could hire his longtime friend, Preston Woods, as his assistant.
Woods, a Twin Falls High graduate, had been running the Little Ski Hill freeride program.
While McDonald handles the park-building and coaching duties, 38-year-old Woods manages on-ground operations like snow rakers and their schedules. He also mans the park’s social media program — a key component in the terrain park’s recent boost in popularity.
“It’s been huge,” Woods said. “It’s our main tool for getting information out. With an iPhone I can instantly show everyone what’s going on using Instagram and Facebook. We had so many awesome days last year even though we didn’t get a lot of snow. ... It’s where kids get their info. We saw big growth in our events last year as the season went on and it was just our first year.”
Another important aspect of this guerrilla social media movement is that sponsors get instant access to engagement, which is key to keeping the park funded.
“Sponsors can hop on social media and see results, and we can show kids what a particular business or manufacturer gave us for prizes, whether it was money or product,” Woods said. “We tag sponsors, and they’re in the conversation when we thank them, and it just provides a lot more exposure. Even if people aren’t at the mountain, they see the wrap-ups, the photos and whomever’s making it all possible.”
While the Bogus Basin Terrain Park team is promoting freeride culture in the Valley, significant hurdles remain. Because of Bogus Basin’s lack of snow over the past few years, Woods said they’ve turned to techniques like snow farming — raking in snow from the edges of runs built up by plows — to keep the terrain parks manicured.
But that attention to detail will only bring more talent into the fold, something McDonald is certainly passionate about.
We’ve had several kids finish well into the top 10 at national events. If we can keep that talent and double it every year, that’s how you build a program.”
Corey McDonald, Bogus Basin Terrain Park manager
Joe Carberry is a freelance writer who covers action and outdoor sports.
Correction: Corey McDonald graduated from Capital High and Preston Woods graduated from Twin Falls High. An earlier version of this story had incorrect information.