“Ski hot or die,” could be the motto of the Cordeau family—Joe, Barbara, Christine and Shane—of Ketchum. It was also the headline of a Powder Magazine story written in 1980 about the burgeoning pro-mogul tour. And it remains a spot-on description of the world of freestyle skiing, and the Cordeau family.
They grew up a continent apart—Joe in Biddeford, Maine, and “Barb” in Bellingham, Washington. Recognizing in each other a similar inclination, they met in a lift line in 1975, the same year they moved to Sun Valley.
“There weren’t that many people who skied everyday like that,” Barb said. Besides Joey’s nickname was “Maniac.”
“That was one of them, anyway,” Joey said, laughing.
After they met, he introduced her to his passion—moguls. “I dragged her into it,” Joey said. “She competed at a high level.”
“I was quite content at second,” Barb said, underrating her skills. For a time she finished amongst the top competitors at every competition. Austria’s handmade ski makers, Kneissl, sponsored them both.
Professional mogul skiers race for performance with lots of quick turns and difficult maneuvers. Basically, you need athleticism mixed with flair. By 1981, Joey had earned the first of his four World Professional Mogul Skiing Championships. He repeated in 1983, ’84 and ’85.
Married in ‘77, the Cordeau’s first child, daughter Christine, was born in 1983. Shane followed in 1986. Joey had the kids shuffling around on little skies in their living room by the time they could walk. He built a ski bump in the backyard. As with a lot of kids who grow up in the area, they quickly advanced to Dollar Mountain.
Skiing is our “church,” Barb said. “Our Sunday outing.”
“On powder days, my dad would be yelling at us to get up,” Christine said.
Christine joined Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s (SVSEF) D team and thrived. Then she moved up to the C home team before quitting to swim full time. Shane was less enamored with the cold—but not for long. Both kids eventually moved into their parents’ domain.
“Tine,” as she’s known, cracked the Top 5 in U.S. in mogul skiing. She traveled to races, often with her dad, as SVSEF coach on North American (NorAm) circuit. Close to home, she won the Lane Parrish Memorial Ski Race in moguls and the Super G. In 2007, she and Shane both finished tops in the bumps at the annual Lane Parrish.
Four years ago, Shane started training with U.S. Ski Team in Park City, Utah, where they work out at the Center of Excellence. He was the bronze medalist in dual moguls in 2012 in the U.S. Nationals. He finished 4th overall in NorAm rankings in 2012.
“This summer he started bringing in 1200s and double flips, though they aren’t allowed in competition,” Joe said. “ The jumping is insane now—it’s basically an aerial contest.”
Not so in his day, as he explained, “In the old days, you went over moguls. Now they go around. If it was me, I’d put a mogul right in their zipper line.”
His coaching remains firmly entrenched in learning the basics. To that end Joe has produced—through the Cordeau Institute of Skiing—two DVDs available on Amazon: “A Weekend Guide to Warriors: Skiing for Kids” and “A Weekend Guide to Warriors: Real Moguls, Expert Runs. “
The key to teaching young kids is to keep it simple and fun, Joey explained. “Trick them into learning the sport and they will love it for life,” he advises.
Barbara, a bookkeeper for Silver Creek Outfitters for 15 years, still skis regularly with a group of ever-expanding and changing friends.
“We have an old people’s pack of mogul skiers,” Joey said. “We just like to have fun. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to the groomed (runs).”
In the off-season, he’s a painting contractor. The winter finds him back on the mountain six days a week, coaching.
“Biggest thing is I want to be here tomorrow,” he said, with a wicked grin. “I have to pace myself so I can go till 4:30. Took me a long time to learn that.”