Skiing & Riding

Shining the Spotlight on Terrain Park Manager Nate Sheehan

The goal for the terrain park at Dollar Mountain is pretty simple: be one of the best on the planet.

Accomplishing such feat isn’t easy, but then again, nothing worthwhile ever is. Nate Sheehan knows a lot about reaching for big heights and doing things that aren’t very easy. The new terrain park manager for Sun Valley didn’t take the easy path to his very successful career in the parks and pipes scene.

Nate was raised and learned to snowboard in Pennsylvania, a state known for being a hotbed for college football players, not snowboarders.

Nate did, however, grow up in Fairfield, the home of Ski Liberty, so the transition from his childhood love of skateboarding to snowboarding was, as he says, “pretty natural.” Between carving up the hills of the Keystone State, and visiting family in the Granite State’s mini ski mecca of North Conway, New Hampshire, Nate became a very strong snowboarder with a passion for always pushing himself to improve.
“I just learned by trying, and falling, a lot,” he said, from the dining room at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge on a snowy Saturday afternoon.
By the time Nate got to high school he began competing in the Mid-Atlantic Snowboard Series, and doing rather well. The three time regional champ decided to go to college back up in New Hampshire, where he spent a year riding a lot at Loon and Waterville Valley. And that’s when he first really started to make a name for himself.

After an impressive 2nd place showing at the Bud Light Big Air competition, Nate took home first at Killington’s annual Spring Loaded contest. That’s when he decided it was time to kick his game up a notch.

“It occurred to me that if I was going to give snowboarding a shot, I had to move out West,” Nate said.

Nate moved to Utah, where his dreams of snowboarding stardom seemed very far away at first. He was just another fresh-faced kid carrying a snowboard and big dream. “That first year or so was really tough. I was really struggling,” he said. “But eventually I started to get into events and to start traveling to compete in Colorado and California. Once I started to podium in some of the those, doors finally started to open.”

Nate would go on to be invited to compete in the U.S. Open, numerous international contests and the X Games twice, where he barely missed the podium. Nate also worked as a freestyle coach for Team Utah, while completing a degree from the University of Utah in the off-season.

Family called Nate back to Ski Liberty for a handful of years, where he served as the terrain park manager for his hometown hill. “It was nice to be there,” he said about his time back at Ski Liberty. “It’s family. I’ve known some of those people my whole life.”

The opportunity to come to Sun Valley to do the job he loves—and to mountain bike world-class terrain in the off-season, his other passion—is why Nate decided to move West again. And now in the midst of his first season running the terrain park for Sun Valley, he’s thrilled with the decision.

“I love it. The people have been very friendly and really cool. I feel very fortunate to stay in an industry I love in an amazing place like this,” he said.

It would appear the Ullr, the Norse god of snow and skiing, approves of Nate’s decision as well. For his first season has also been a very snowy one so far. “I’ve already had more powder this season than I had in the last five combined, “ he said with a big smile.

(Photo by Cody Haskell)

The great snow isn’t the only reason Nate’s having a good season. He’s also very thankful for the rock star crew he’s captaining.
“The team here is awesome. It’s been a huge help for me to have an experienced crew that has been doing this for a while and has great passion for the park,” he said.

Besides the talented team, Nate said another key to Sun Valley’s success is the impressive amount of terrain Dollar Mountain has dedicated to the park. The expansive space allows plenty of room for most skiers and riders. As Nate said, “Most days you feel like you’ve got your own private park.”

As for the success of Sun Valley’s terrain park scene, Nate said it all comes to the quality of the features and the experience it affords riders and skiers of ages and abilities. He knows that maintaining high quality isn’t easy, but that’s what makes it worth it.

“Quality of life, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “And a quality experience is what we try to provide for everyone who comes here.”



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