The Liberty University Skiing and Snowboarding team made its first trip to the United States Collegiate Skiing and Snowboarding Association (USCSA) national championships at the Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry, Maine, March 7-10.
Freshman Jon Steltzer had a particularly successful weekend, placing second in the skiing big air competition and fourth in skiing slopestyle. Steltzer recently signed a deal with 4FRONT Skis, becoming the first member of the team to sign a professional sponsorship deal.
Steltzer joined five Liberty snowboarders at the competition, who all performed well in their first national championship.
“We made our mark,” said head coach Will Scheren. “People were talking about us, our guys rode well, and I think they represented the university well.”
Liberty’s four male snowboarders combined to take seventh place as a team.
Dave Promnitz finished 13th in snowboard slopestyle and 30th (among 62 competitors) in Snowboardcross, an event where four competitors race down the mountain.
Also competing in men’s slopestyle were Zach Bukolt, who finished 26th; Ethan Acree, 33rd; and Zach Huff, 35th.
Eden Jones, the only female from Liberty to compete, finished 14th in women’s snowboard slopestyle.
Nationals capped a successful season for the three-year-old team. Liberty went undefeated in competitions for both USCSA and the Collegiate Freestyle Association (CFA). This is the first year Liberty has participated in USCSA sanctioned events.
Liberty was the only team at nationals that has its own slope located on campus. The team practices year-round at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, the only slope of its kind in North America made of Snowflex, a synthetic material that simulates the effects of snow.
Scheren said because of this distinction, Liberty’s skiers and snowboarders “can throw more elite tricks than any other team.”
He said while the team has primarily focused on freestyle skiing and snowboarding for this reason, he hopes to grow the program, with plans of setting up a giant slalom course at the Snowflex Centre and adding a Nordic (cross country) racing team as well.