Boards and skis take on rail

No snow necessary — Skiers and snowboarders competed in the DeMoss Rail Jam on Dec.3. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

After waiting all year, December is here and winter sports take the spotlight once again. On Saturday, for the second time at Liberty University, DeMoss Rail Jam gave skiers and snowboarders the chance to show off their abilities.

Because of higher than normal temperatures, the event moved from DeMoss to Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre. Last year, snow was transported in from the Wintergreen Resort in Wintergreen, Va., and covered the stairs of DeMoss where 50 different snowboarders and skiers competed. However, the resorts lacked enough snow this year.

“Temperature is really being a big factor for us right now,” Snowflex instructor Zachary Bukolt said.

The Rail Jam involved two different competitions. The first-ever Trails 2 Rails consisted of about nine Liberty students new to the sport who have only been training at the Snowflex Centre for two months.

“Trails 2 Rails was incredible. I was blown away by the transformation,” General Manager Drew Sherwood said.

Liberty student Jeremy Ganse won the event, receiving $800 worth of gear including a board, boots, bindings, jacket, pants, goggles and earmuffs. Issac Gibson came in second overall, winning a jacket, and Adam Varnadore was third, winning goggles for his efforts. In the women’s division, Rachel Wensley won and received a new Billabong Jacket.

“It’s not something everyone can do. You got to be pretty athletic, agile, and you got to conquer fears too,” Head Instructor Luke Fosse said. “There’s some scary hit and rails.”

Following Trials 2 Rails, the main event consisted of 30 different expert skiers and snowboarders using complex tricks to win a cash prize totaling $1,000.

Ross Rowan from Boone, N.C. won the event for skiers. Liberty student Matt Rogers won second place, and Tanner Sinclair from Boone was third. Liberty student Zach Huff won first place in snowboarding. Austin Leonard from Boone won second, and Luke Fosse from Vermont was third. Ryan Leeds was awarded the best trick and won $340.

Assistant Manger Will Scheren said the most elite tricks used at the event were 360s on and off the rails and switch, which is basically hitting the rail backwards.

“It’s all really technical snowboarding on a handrail,” Scheren said.

Three different rails were set up on the slope and more than 15 riders at a time attempted to ride the rails, much like grinding in skateboard. They were judged on how clean the ride was and how difficult the trick was.

“Overall, it was a very successful event,” Sherwood said.

Trails 2 Rails began at 7 p.m. and the main event ended around midnight. Hundreds of Liberty students dressed for winter stood on the side of the slope watching and cheering.

The event was free and prizes were awarded to fans including an iPad. Part of the slope remained open during the night for anyone to ride or watch the competition.

For more information, visit or call the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre at 434-582-3539.

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