Nov 17, 2009

Staying safe on snowflex

by Matthew Coleman

Both the lift ticket and the equipment rentals for America’s only Snowflex are free for all residential Liberty students, and there is no better time to hit the slopes than all year around. But for beginners or expert riders, there are a few things to consider before braving the synthetic slope atop Liberty Mountain.

1. Gravity does not distinguish between expert and novice riders.

“It is important to learn the basics the right way before moving on to intermediate and advanced moves,” according to

This principle can be applied unilaterally to skiing and snowboarding. The bunny slope in front of the Chalet Snow Lodge is there for a reason. It provides beginners and experts alike with the chance to adjust to Snowflex’s synthetic material and hone their abilities before advancing to the larger slopes.

All first-time users of the Snowflex are required to use the bunny slope at least once to prove they are ready for the larger slopes, according to Novice riders are especially cautioned to take their time and master the basics, such as turning and stopping, before advancing to the
steeper, less merciful slopes.

2. Helmets are more than a fashion statement.

Snowflex’s built-in jumps give its riders the opportunity to hone their aerial skills. However, even expert’s tricks do not always go according to plan.

“Head injuries are one of the worst that you can get in skiing, so wear a helmet to reduce the risk of head injuries caused by falls or collisions,” according to

This principle also applies to snowboarders.

While Snowflex does have built-in shock absorbers to help cushion the fall of its riders, injuries still occur. In these cases, a properly worn helmet can mean the difference between a fun-filled evening and a trip to Lynchburg General Hospital.

3. Instructors are the best friend of every novice rider.

“Certified staff members are on-hand to provide lessons, if necessary,” according to

If learning to ski or snowboard with minimal pain and bruising is the desired goal, then enlisting the assistance of an instructor may be the best bet, according to Liberty’s Snowflex has a team of qualified instructors that are paid to provide instructional tips to those who ask. Learning the basics of skiing and snowboarding can be harder than it looks, but the proper instruction can make the process go much more smoothly.

4. Making it down the slope in one piece requires proper equipment.

One of the easiest ways to sabotage a day at Snowflex is using improperly fitted equipment, according to Trying to save money on rentals by borrowing a friend’s gear, whether for snowboarding or skiing, is dangerous.

A professional’s knowledge is required to ensure that everything fits properly and will perform according to plan. Taking anything else down the slope is like rolling the dice on safety, according to The equipment might work, but then again, it might not. Now that the equipment rentals are free for all Liberty students, there should be no need for risking equipment safety
5. Snowflex looks like snow but feels like Velcro.

The synthetic, outer layer of the Snowflex is designed to mimic the look and feel of snow, according to The inch-long bristles are what allows riders to glide over the material and still cut and turn like real snow. The downside is that the material is abrasive and has the potential to cut bare skin.

All riders are required to wear proper attire, including long-sleeve clothing, pants and gloves, according to This rule is in place for a simple reason: sliding down the synthetic surface on unprotected skin will create injuries that are similar to a severe rug burn.

Also, it is recommended that riders wear waterproof
clothing while on Snowflex.

6. Prior exercise will go a long way to preparing riders for the slopes.

“Make sure you are in good shape,” according to “There is a much lower risk of getting injured and you will not get tired easily if you are physically fit.”

Skiing and snowboarding are physically demanding activities, and a certain level of physical fitness is required to maneuver effectively down the slopes, according to Turning, stopping, jumping and landing all require stamina to perform. Preparing in to use Snowflex in advance by leading a healthy life will pay dividends when riders start down the slopes.

Contact Matthew Coleman at

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