After strong showings at WISP, Flames gear up for Snowshoe
February 2, 2014 | Deep Creek Lake, Md.
Following trips to Massanutten Resort near Harrisonburg, Va., last month and WISP Resort in Western Maryland this past weekend, Liberty University first-year ski and snowboard Head Coach Ryan Leeds has concluded that small terrain parks are too tame for the Flames.
"Our team does better in bigger terrain parks with harder features," he said. "When we get into smaller parks like the one this past weekend, we don't do as well."
Leeds is excited to see Liberty's riders unleash their biggest tricks and jumps at this Sunday's third United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) Southeast Conference slopestyle event of the season at Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia.
"We're definitely looking forward to Snowshoe next weekend," Leeds said. "Snowshoe's the closest we're going to get to a nationals-level course."
He said Lake Placid, site of the 1980 Winter Olympics and the March 9-15 USCSA National Championships, offers even bigger features.
"At Snowshoe, as a coaching staff, we're going to encourage our athletes to go for bigger tricks to get ready for nationals," Leeds said. "In practice this week, we're training them, getting them ready for bigger jumps and rail features."
This past weekend at WISP, Liberty (11 points) still dominated the men's freestyle snowboarding competition against its Southeast Conference foes, leaving runner-up Virginia (52) and third-place Appalachian State University (75) in the dust with the lowest team score placing first.
The Flames landed four of the top five individual scores in clear conditions for Saturday's Boardercross before sweeping the top four under foggy, rainy skies for Sunday's slopestyle events, with the highest points total winning.
|Kevin Hoff, who swept the men's snowboarding competition, shows perfect form in coming off a rail.|
Flames junior Kevin Hoff placed first both days with scores of 22.5 on Saturday and an average score of 25.7 Sunday to remain undefeated through two competitions. Junior Isaac Gibson took third the first day with a score of 19.8, behind ASU's Drew Cook (21.2), and freshman Brendan McHugh placed fourth the first day with a score of 18.7 and second the second day with an average of 23.3.
Liberty junior Zach Bukolt showed similar improvement, finishing fifth Saturday with a 16.7 and third Sunday with a 20.75 average. Senior Jesse Spadino came in fourth on Sunday with his 19.1 average.
"We did fairly well in the two days of competition," Leeds said. "It was a weird course setup and it kind of tested our athletes' ability to adapt to different conditions and smaller features. They did well, but we know from our practices that they can do even better."
Liberty junior Jon Steltzer won the men's ski competition, despite coming in second Sunday to the same opponent — Bridgewater College's Matthew Wampler — that his older brother, Tim, finished runner-up to at Massanutten. Jon led with his score of 22.5 on Saturday, when Wampler wasn't in the field, before posting the high mark in Sunday's first round, a 28.2. However, Wampler topped his 26.3 first-round performance with a 28.3 on his final run to overtake Steltzer — who posted a second-round score of 25.1 — by an average total of 27.3 to 26.65.
In the women's snowboarding event, junior Brandy Fronte and freshman Sydney Beatty combined to help the Lady Flames finish third with 40 points, behind teams from Virginia (19) and East Carolina University (35).
On the first day, Fronte tied UVa's Molloy Sheehan for fourth place with an 11-point run before finishing third outright with scores of 11.5 and 12 on Sunday.
"Brandy actually had a really, really good run both days," Leeds said.
Beatty wound up seventh on Saturday with a 9.0 and fourth on Sunday with an 11.45 average despite taking a bad fall in warm-ups.
"Sydney had a rough weekend," Leeds said. "She injured her knee the first day in practice, but still rode on it, which was impressive."
The injury prevented her from landing her tricks off the features, however.
Complete results are available online.