Liberty University’s Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre made its mark in the ski and snowboard world on Saturday, Dec. 3 when it hosted Trails 2 Rails, the first event of its kind to take people who had never been on a slope before and turn them into competitive skiers and snowboarders.
“It’s the first time it’s ever been done in ski and snowboard history, in the country or even in the world, that we’re aware of,” said Drew Sherwood, manager of Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, the university’s year-round ski slope that is the only facility in North America made of Snowflex, a synthetic material that simulates the effects of snow.
More than 400 students tried out for Trails 2 Rails at the beginning of the semester and were narrowed down to 18 participants. They trained for two months – three days a week – with a certified instructor.
“In just two months, going from never skiing or snowboarding to performing in a contest is unheard of,” Sherwood said. “Just to see the progression shows how well Snowflex really works and how blessed we are as a university to have this event in our backyard.”
|The DeMoss Rail Jam and Trails 2 Rails competition was held Saturday, Dec. 3 at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre.|
He said Snowflex allows skiers and snowboarders to progress twice as fast as they would at other ski resorts.
“Our facility offers consistent run. It never changes with snow or icy surfaces.”
Jeremy Ganse, a freshman exercise science major, was the winner of the Trails 2 Rails competition, and walked away with $800 worth of gear and a love for the sport of snowboarding.
“It’s a lot of fun being able to snowboard. … You can have the opportunity to ride for free because you’re a student here, and just get really good,” said Ganse, who added he also practiced on his own two hours every day. “… I’m going to keep riding. I’m going to try jumps now instead of rails. I can’t wait.”
Freshman Tyler Knopp said the experience was worthwhile.
“Not knowing how to do anything (when trying out) and then being in such a big competition like this … was very nerve-wracking … but I learned to love it, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
Sherwood said the event was so successful, they will offer it again next semester with all new participants and a focus on jumps. They are also hoping to offer a similar experience for area high school students.
Trails 2 Rails was followed by the second annual DeMoss Rail Jam, featuring expert skiers and snowboarders competing for cash and prizes. (Last year, snow was brought in to the steps of the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center for the competition, but due to warm weather this year, the event was moved to the Snowflex Centre.)
More than 40 competitors showed off their best tricks, including members of Liberty’s Freestyle Team and riders from Lynchburg College, Roanoke College and Virginia Tech.
The next competition at the Snowflex Centre will be the College Freestyle Series on Feb. 4, 2012.
Winner – Jeremy Ganse
Top Female – Rachel Wensley
1st Zach Huff (Liberty student)
2nd Austin Leonard (Boone, N.C.)
3rd Luke Fosse (Lynchburg)
1st Ross Rowan (Boone, N.C.)
2nd Matt Rogers (member of Liberty’s Freestyle Team)
3rd Tanner Sinclair (Boone, N.C.)