Liberty ski and snowboard team excels in Southeast opener
January 13, 2019 | Blowing Rock, N.C.
Liberty University's men's snowboarders and women's skiers placed first in the team standings while the Flames' skiers finished runner-up to North Carolina State in an extremely tight United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association (USCSA) Southeast competition.
Icy conditions made navigating the slopestyle course at Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock, N.C., particularly tricky for skiers and snowboarders at last weekend's event.
"It was a very good course setup for our first comp of the year," Flames Head Coach Isaac Gibson said of the layout that included two jumps and three rail features. "The jumps were good sized but the ice made the snow faster so you had to adjust your speed and a few overshot their jumps, landed really deep, and washed out. With the conditions we had taken into consideration, we did well."
Liberty junior Milo Rice, competing for the Flames for the first time, posted the highest score in the men's snowboard event with an 84, topping NC State's Matt Dunkel (75) and senior teammate Garrett Long (68.66).
"Milo performed really well and had a more technical rail line," Gibson said. "Garrett's jumps were really good and he had a really good first run, but he came out early on a few of his rail tricks and fell after catching an edge on his second run."
Liberty put four of its six snowboarders in the top 10 out of 62 total competitors. Behind the Wolfpack's Duncan Neilander, who placed fourth with 66 points, sophomore Owen Hewitt (53.33) finished fifth for the Flames, followed by sophomore Payton Fedako (seventh, 48.66). Sophomore Tanner Hoffarth (17th, 34.33) and freshman Tyler Sherbine (21st, 32.0) also placed well.
As a team, Liberty came out on top with nine points (low score wins) followed by NC State (22), Appalachian State (33), East Carolina, North Carolina, JMU, and George Mason.
Liberty edged George Mason, 8-11, in the women's ski team standings. Lady Flames freshman Taylor Keeran finished first by putting down a score of 35.66 followed by senior Kylie Kehrman (second, 33). GMUs Caroline Fudala (31.33) and Elizabeth McPherson (29) placed third and fourth, respectively, followed by Liberty freshman Hannah Loftus (24.33), who overshot a few of her jumps.
|Cole Loomis finished fourth in the men's skiing event.|
In the men's skiing competition, Liberty placed all six of its travel team members in the top 10, but was nipped by UNC in the team standings by a 10-11 total.
Flames senior Isaac Shepard (69.66) finished runner-up to the Tar Heels' Michael Mysh (82.66) and Liberty sophomore Cole Loomis (49) and junior Chris Yablonski (45.66) placed fourth and fifth, respectively, behind UNC's Alan Burchell (third, 64.33). Juniors Jeffrey Loftus (seventh, 39.66) and Eli Haita (eighth, 32.66) were followed by Flames senior Andrew Garafolo (10th, 31.33).
Liberty's second and final Southeast regular-season contest is set for Jan. 26 at Massanutten (Va.) Resort.