Flames first in men's snowboarding, skiing at Snowshoe
February 9, 2014 | Snowshoe, W.Va.
Liberty University's ski and snowboard Head Coach Ryan Leeds filed a protest following last Sunday's third United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) slopestyle event at Snowshoe (W.Va.) Mountain Resort. The final scores released on Tuesday were reassessed after it was determined there was some faulty judging, and the Flames actually had four of the top five finishes out of 55 contestants in the men's snowboarding competition. Liberty was led by freshman Brendan McHugh, the overall champion with a score of 24.5, and junior runner-up Isaac Gibson (23.8).
In the men's skiing competition, Flames graduate student Tim Steltzer took first out of eight competitors by adding a switch rodeo 720-degree flip and spin to score a 27.8 on his second run. He surpassed Bridgewater College's Matthew Wampler (third, 24.0) who edged Steltzer and his younger brother, Jonathan Steltzer, in the two previous USCSA competitions, Jan. 11 at Massanutten and Feb. 1 at WISP Resort, respectively.
Leeds said there was miscommunication about what features the judges took into consideration on the bottom of the course, where only two jumps or rails should have counted. The course started with two rail features near the top before proceeding to two jumps or three rails at the bottom.
"Some people, after they hit the last jump, would cut over and hit the last box feature," Leeds said.
Junior Zachary Bukolt came in third with 23.3 points, ahead of James Madison University's Camden Kurtz (23.1) Liberty senior Kevin Hoff (23.0) and JMU's Marshall Meyhew (22.2), who was originally the second-place finisher.
"Zach's performance was clutch because of the way he came back," Leeds said. "He didn't land his first run, so on his second run, he went really big. The rail feature has a flat part and a down part to it and he did a 270-degree spin over the flat part and landed that really cleanly."
McHugh and Hoff started down the slopes with backward approaches to the rail features.
"Brendan McHugh had a really, really good run," Leeds said. "Both (McHugh and Hoff) implemented switch tricks into their runs, adding a higher level of difficulty."
Gibson focused on executing his tricks on the rails.
"Isaac rode really, really well," Leeds said. "Everybody on the team was pumped for him. He hit all of the features on the course, instead of the two jumps."
He said the team was prepared for the bigger terrain park with more challenging features offered at Snowshoe from training at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre.
"Everybody practiced really hard the week before Snowshoe and it really showed during the competition," Leeds said. "We as a team rode better because we train on bigger features at Snowflex, which present a higher level of difficulty. I was proud of our entire team. Everybody landed their jumps really well."
Lady Flames junior Brandy Fronte placed sixth in the women's snowboarding competition with a score of 11.5, which Leeds contested should have been higher.
"She was one of the only girls to hit both of the jumps," Leeds said. "She cleared both of them and landed both of her runs. I was proud of her for stepping up and hitting both of her features on the bottom."
Complete results are available online.
Leeds said the competition at Snowshoe was good training for the final two USCSA events of the season — USCSA Regionals this Friday through Sunday at Hunter Mountain, N.Y., and the USCSA National Championships, March 9-15 at Lake Placid, site of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games.
"We're only going to be taking six individual riders to nationals, based on their performance at regionals and how they've done since the start of the season," Leeds said.