BBSEF Unleashes Shredder 

Freeride and freestyle programs return to Bogus

Freestyle: Jumps and tricks in a mountain's terrain park.

Freeride: Freestyle techniques used incidentally on a groomed run or in the back country.

Mohammed went to the Mountain and the Mountain finally acquiesced.

After several years without a competitive freestyle/freeride ski and snowboard program, Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area has finally created one: Team Shred.

In March, Boise Weekly reported that a group of people were getting serious about getting more serious freestyle and freeride ski programs. By then about 500 people had become fans of a Facebook page called "Bring freestyle/freeride skiing back to Bogus Basin" (today that same group has almost 700 members), and a few of the group's most vocal members began pushing the resort and the Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation, which was running a modest freeride program, for more.

With Team Shred, "more" could certainly mean more competitive freestyle and freeride programs are returning to Bogus Basin.

The programs that had been in place were discontinued about three years ago due to financial reasons.

Sam Sandmire, a parent of a freeride skier and former Boise State gymnastics head coach, was at the vocal forefront in trying to get programs back.

"Some people at Bogus and BBSEF were upset with me," Sandmire said, "but I was just pointing out the truth that no program existed."

Tamarack Resort welcomed the former Bogus and BBSEF freeride kids, but when Tamarack closed in February 2009, the kids were again left without a place to train. Concerned parents and coaches went to Bogus management to petition that the programs return though not asking the mountain to manage them, according to Sandmire. Management declined, wanting any such programs to run under the direction of BBSEF. It wasn't until November 2009, when Mike Sabin was named BBSEF president, that changes began to happen and the programs started to return.

"We've been growing our freeride components the last couple of years," Sabin said. "As we entered last season, our goal was to expand our offerings. One of the things we got into was re-establishing some of the events on the mountain. The [outside] pressure we got put under ... I don't know if it really accelerated our plans. We had intentions all along to grow our program but to grow it in a measured way."

So, recently, BBSEF decided to start its own dedicated program and Josh Loubek was hired to run the program.

"Coming into contact with Josh was a win-win for everyone because he brought to us the expertise to probably accelerate the growth of our program," Sabin said. "Really, Josh has all the experience in the world to build out the programs necessary to train the athletes in all the disciplines of where that segment of skiing is going. And he is absolutely plugged into it with all of his judging activities and connections with the U.S. Ski Team."

Loubek is a three-time X Games athlete who has been a head judge at the X Games for the past 10 years.

"You know, it's funny," Loubek said. "When I came in here, I sort of asked around to find out what was going on, and I felt like I was Kevin Bacon from the movie Footloose because it was like, 'You don't dance here? What's going on?' It was really odd. But I'm very optimistic we are getting the ball rolling in the right direction. The mountain is very positive and wants to help and give us great terrain features, and that's the most important thing. If we can get the program going, and if the mountain can give us the product as well, it will be a great program."

While Loubek knows that the burden for getting the program up and running effectively rests on his shoulders, he is quite confident that the program will grow.

"I think it will develop very quickly and organically," he said. "I just think kids are dying for it, and on the flip side parents are stoked to have a program that is going to teach in a safe learning environment for kids to do all the jumps and the crazy stuff. "

Loubek trained at the winter sports club in Steamboat Springs, Colo., which he considers to be one of the best in the world and a good model for Bogus.

"In five years I would like to have a really good participation for kids, skiers, snowboarders and Team Shred. And then maybe on top of Team Shred have an elite program for kids that are going out and doing the X Games and competing in worldwide events."

Sandmire agrees that having Loubek on board is a good idea but said that good jumps are essential to attracting kids.

"I'm very pleased that there is finally going to be a freestyle program again at Bogus," she said. "If Bogus Basin mountain management and BBSEF are willing to listen to forward-thinking ideas from Josh and other freestyle experts, then Bogus can have an awesome freestyle-freeride program."

And while a half-pipe is not likely in the mountain's near future, at least for the time being, limited aerial runs may now be in place. The key to continued forward momentum is to get the participants into the program while keeping costs low.

"Our biggest opportunity for growth is to start bringing some of the snowboarding athletes in. To my knowledge we are the most competitive [price-wise] in the Northwest ... a kid who chooses to train one day a week, we are charging them $500 for 12 weeks for all-day instruction. It's pretty reasonable."

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