Finch's commentary, pro riders add to thrills at Dew Games
April 27, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Area skiers and snowboarders and visiting professional riders thrilled the crowd while Liberty University ski and snowboard head coach Will Scheren and former U.S. Olympic snowboarder Andy Finch announced the action from an open-air booth during Saturday night's fourth annual Dew Games at the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center.
Spring weather conditions and a beautiful view of the Liberty campus and surrounding city set the stage for a night of spectacular stunts off the jumps and tricks on the rails for the 43 contestants competing for $16,500 in prize money in six events — the women's snowboarding rail jam and big air, and men's snowboarding and skiing rail and air.
Finch, who retired from competition after 14 years in 2011 following his ninth major surgery, has shifted his focus toward sports ministry and commentary, including broadcasting for Fox during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. He has traveled around the world to compete and more recently to Slovenia and Croatia on ministry trips.
"I'm just trying to love on snowboarders because they need Jesus, too," said Finch, who accepted a late invitation to join the Games. "This was pretty last-minute (but) any time the Lord's involved and He opens the door, I just take a step through and see what He's got. God's given me a great platform to share His Gospel, so I try not to waste that."
While Liberty students in the School of Communication and Creative Arts provided live videography streamed online through the remote HD truck stationed behind the booth and projected on a large screen set up next to the big air jump, Finch and Scheren added lively color commentary throughout the event before presenting the winners their championship belts and prize money at the post-competition awards ceremony.
"It was awesome to come out here and see what an awesome production this is," Finch said. "I was really impressed. It's a great training facility, or just a facility to come out and have fun, either way. All the guys out here were having a great time."
Though Finch didn't compete on Saturday, he tried out the synthetic slopes for the first time on Friday.
"I've never really ridden on Snowflex before," he said. ""It rode great and to see what is capable on it, I think it's going to change the future of snowboarding, I really do.
"I took five runs and had a great time," added Finch, who's 32. "My problem is I've got to be careful. I'm old in the snowboard world. My body's falling apart. So if I push it, I have a hard time holding back sometimes. I've had nine major surgeries and they keep putting me back together. I'm running out of spare parts."
Finch expects big things to come for the facility in the near future.
"This is just the beginning of what's going to be here," he said. "Just the resources that Liberty provides, this was just an awesome, awesome production because I've done the biggest events in the world and, maybe it was a little on a smaller scale, but it was there. Every factor of a big production was right there."
He was also encouraged by the fellowship of believers among the staff and students on Liberty Mountain.
"I've talked to some snowboarders that are non-believers here and you can just tell that they were blown away by the love that they've received here in Lynchburg," Finch said.