Flames, Steltzer win regionals, prep for nationals
February 22, 2013 | Timberline, W.Va.
Six members of Liberty University's ski and snowboard team will fly to Idaho on Sunday for the chance to soar over the Sun Valley slopes and jumps in next Tuesday's through Saturday's United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association national championships.
Flames head coach Will Scheren wants his riders to shoot for the sky, but not to exercise reckless abandon during the competition.
He prefers that Liberty's snowboarders — Eden Jones, Kevin Hoff, Dave Promnitz, Jesse Spadino, and Brendan Sullivan — and skier Tim Steltzer take the conservative route on their initial runs before pushing the edge of the envelope once they have a solid score in the books.
"We won't be letting them spin anything past a 540(-degree stunt) or going upside down until after nationals, once we get into our CFA (Collegiate Freestyle Association) season," Scheren said. "They'll be dialing in 360s, 540s, and 180s, making sure that we're landing the tricks that we're doing."
The Flames will be seeking to improve on their seventh-place team showing from last year's nationals in Maine.
"Everything we've been doing this year has been geared toward putting down good slopestyle runs and scoring as many points as possible at nationals," Scheren said. "I'd rather see our teams win than have individuals get second or third. We will try to formulate our runs in a way that will let us do that."
Scheren is approaching the competition like a baseball manager studying statistics and tinkering with his lineup.
"We've been putting down batting averages of how many times they've been riding tricks and how frequently they're landing them," Scheren said. "We've been striving for consistency. The guys we're taking to nationals have been landing 360s about 75 percent of the time (at the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre). Going on snow, that average falls to about 50 percent."
Arriving a couple days before the start of the competition should allow the Flames to acclimate themselves to the conditions.
"We'll be taking a couple days out there before the contest to try to get ready," Scheren said. "We need to be consistent on the snow, both when it's hard and packed and soft and giving. Hopefully, we'll be able to adjust quickly."
The competition will be significantly stiffer than what Liberty faced at this past Friday's Southeast Regionals at Timberline Resort (W.Va.), where they won the men's snowboard competition, holding off East Carolina, Lafayette, Virginia, and fifth-place Fairfield (Conn.)
"The guys that we'll be out there riding against, from schools such as Colorado-Boulder, they're on snow like the park we'll be riding on as frequently as we're at Snowflex," Scheren said. "We've just got to stick to our game plan and position ourselves well in the points standings. Hopefully, we'll be able to piece together some sort of winning combination."
Though all they had to do to qualify for nationals was to complete their runs at regionals, the Flames still tried a few new tricks and found their competitive edge.
"The guys definitely went out there and wanted to win," Scheren said. "They came and competed and made sure they won and made sure they got ready for nationals."
Individually, at regionals, the Flames were led by Promnitz (third) and Hoff (fourth) while Jones finished third among women, behind only two riders from Rutgers. Steltzer was the overall slopestyle skiing champion, pacing the Flames to the team title.
Steltzer will look to meet or exceed his younger brother Jonathan's fourth-place performance in the slopestyle skiing event and second-place showing in the big-air competition at next week's nationals.
"We're bringing Tim with a lot of hopes that he will win out there," Scheren said. "If he rides well and has a good day, is feeling confident, I feel he has the tricks to win the contest. We're feeling good about Tim's chances to win and for Eden to have a good showing, too."
Promnitz and Jones will be aiming to improve on their 10th- and 14th-place finishes from last year and Hoff could land in that range as well.
"Top 10's pretty reasonable for those guys," Scheren said.