Flames ride, ski to first-place finishes at Beech Mountain
January 26, 2020 | Beech Mountain, N.C.
Liberty University's men's and women's ski and snowboard teams opened their USCSA season with exceptional showings Sunday at Beech Mountain (N.C.) Resort.
Facing Southeast Conference competition from Appalachian State, Duke, East Carolina, JMU, Leeds-McCrae, North Carolina State, North Carolina, and Virginia, the Flames and Lady Flames placed first in three of the four competitions — men's skiing and snowboarding and women's skiing — and second in women's snowboarding.
"We did really, really well and were very, very pleased with our scores and placements," Liberty Head Coach Isaac Gibson said, noting that the terrain park was an ideal setup, offering a variety of features to choose from. "It was a really good venue for hosting a slopestyle contest. There were three tiers and each had three different options of features you could hit. For intermediate to experienced riders, it was a good initiation into the competitive season."
|Freshman Jesse Mast placed second in men's snowboard slopestyle.|
"They were right on each other's heels," Gibson said.
Liberty, which had five riders in the top 10 including junior Owen Hewitt (fifth, 50.67) and freshman Josh Heinrich (ninth, 44.67), won the team competition with 6 points, followed by NC State's 38-point total.
In the women's snowboarding event, freshman Coleen Leja was the overall winner in a landslide with a 54.333-point score, followed by freshman teammate Emory Orlando (23) to lead the Lady Flames (19 points) to a second-place team showing behind Appalachian State (15), which landed four in the top 10.
Despite competing without junior Cole Loomis, who sustained an injury in practice last week, and junior Eli Haita, who was injured on his first run, the Flames' men's skiers won a tight team race, totaling 14 points to edge UVA (17) and UNC (19).
Out of 21 men's skiers, John Hunt finished third with his 46-point run, followed by fellow senior Chris Yablonski (fourth, 41.67).
Liberty's women's skiers won an equally tight race, accumulating 17 points to nip UVA (18) and UNC (25). The Lady Flames were paced by sophomore Taylor Keeren's second-place performance (35.67), freshman Meghan Weigner (seventh, 14.6), sophomore Elizabeth Croley (eighth, 12.73), and junior Jenna Suskie (13th, 7.63).
Liberty will leave from Snowflex on Wednesday night for a weekend of practice at Waterville Valley (N.H.) Resort in preparation for the upcoming Feb. 28-29 USCSA Mid-Atlantic Region competition at Blue Mountain (Pa.) and March 8-14 USCSA National Championships at Lake Placid, N.Y.