Olympic hopeful trains at Snowflex
Pro-skier Jay Panther discovers the artificial ski slope
“Passionate, loyal, determined, focused and loving.”
These are the words that future 2014 Winter Olympic hopeful Jay Panther used to describe himself. Panther is a 27-year-old competitive freestyle mogul who last year, joined the United States Ski Team. In February 2014, he hopes to represent the U.S. in the Winter Olympics, which will take place in Sochi, Russia.
Growing up in Lake Tahoe, Panther fell in love with the free styling motion that moguls bring to a ski course, he said. Moguls are a sequence of bumps made up of snow on the ski course, Panther said.
“I was nine years old skiing with my dad, and they had just started a free style mogul team on our home mountain,” Panther said. “I saw the course and was like ‘that looks awesome’ so I skied the run and hit the jumps and instantly fell in love with it and I have loved it ever since.”
Panther left Lake Tahoe at the age of 12 when his family moved to Louisville, Ky. He attended middle school and high school there until he was accepted into Vanderbilt University where he was awarded a full scholarship for baseball.
After his freshman year, Panther moved back to Lake Tahoe to return to his one true love — skiing.
Nearly 10 years later, Panther is now a member of the U.S. Ski Team and has competed in the World Cup and the U.S. National Championship.
Panther has been training at Liberty University’s, Snowflex, for the past three weeks and has been offering free lessons to those who were interested.
“I am here to train. Snowflex is an amazing facility,” Panther said. “As an athlete there are serious amounts of training to be done here and a lot to be gained from this facility.”
According to Panther, he had never heard of Liberty University or Snowflex until this summer, when his pastor mentioned the school. Intrigued, Panther, his mother and his little brother drove from Louisville, Ky. to spend a few hours on the slopes.
“Instantly I showed up and realized the value of this place. I didn’t know exactly what it was that I was going to be able to accomplish here,” Panther said. “I knew that it had endless possibilities because of how it all just fell into place. God had his hand in it and wanted me here, so I was just trying to be faithful to him.”
Panther’s time at Liberty has quickly drawn to a close. On Nov. 8, he will be leaving for Park City, Utah, to train at Olympic Park.
“Having Jay here is definitely a blessing for us. Having someone at that level train here confirms what we’ve been marketing the past two and a half years,” Snowflex general manager Drew Sherwood said. “This is a top notch training facility and even somebody who is trying to qualify for the Olympics can train here.”
For more information on Panther and his journey to Sochi in the 2014 Winter Olympics, visit www.teamjaypanther.com, or Facebook at www.facebook.com/jay.panther. Or check out his web series on YouTube.