Club Sports News

Skiers, snowboarders soar in USCSA Rail Jam, Big Air events

February 19, 2020  |  Lynchburg, Va. 

Liberty freshman Taylor Keeran placed first in the women's skiing Rail Jam and Big Air events. (Photos by KJ Jugar)  test test test test
Liberty freshman Taylor Keeran placed first in the women's skiing Rail Jam and Big Air events. (Photos by KJ Jugar)

Riding and skiing on its home slopes at the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre gave members of Liberty University's men's and women's ski and snowboard teams a decided edge on their USCSA Southeast Conference competition for Saturday night's Rail Jam and Sunday morning's Big Air competition.

Liberty men's snowboarder Milo Rice competes in Sunday's Big Air competition at Snowflex.(Photo courtesy of Skyler Fusco)  

The Flames and Lady Flames swept seven of the eight team competitions — all but the women's snowboard Big Air event — many in dominating fashion. The first USCSA events held at Snowflex since 2017 attracted student-athletes from JMU, Virginia, Western Carolina, and Piedmont Virginia Community College.

"It was a really awesome opportunity for us to be able to host the other teams and to showcase our facility on Liberty's mountain, which is very unique," Liberty Head Coach Isaac Gibson said. "Having a home contest on our slope allowed our skiers and riders to be confident in the tricks they were doing."

In Saturday's Rail Jam, Liberty's snowboarders edged UVA, 13-14, followed by North Carolina State (31) and JMU (32). Coleen Leja (63.33) demonstrated some advanced maneuvers on the rail features to narrowly beat fellow Lady Flames freshman Emory Orlando (63) for first place, but injured herself on a 180-degree spin coming off a rail on her last run, which kept her out of Sunday's Big Air event.

The Lady Flames skiers took four of the top six positions in the Rail Jam — sophomores Taylor Keeran (first, 55.67) and Elizabeth Croley (third, 51.0), freshman Meghan Weigner (fifth, 38.67), and junior Jenna Suskie (sixth, 34.33) — to total 9 points, distancing themselves from UVA (13) and JMU (31).

"She was able to put down some tricks that were pretty impressive and allowed her to stand above the competition," Gibson said of Keeran.

Meanwhile, Liberty's men's snowboarders landed five of the top six finishes in the Rail Jam — senior Milo Rice (first, 84.67), junior Owen Hewitt (second 72.0), sophomore Tanner Hoffarth (fourth, 64.33), junior Tyler Wilson (fifth, 64.0), and freshman Jesse Mast (sixth, 60.0) — to capture first place in the team standings with 7 points followed by UVA (20), JMU (45), and PVCC (59).

Luke Linker placed second in the men's Rail Jam.

The Flames' skiers also dominated the Rail Jam, racking up the second through seventh positions to total 9 points and separate themselves from Virginia (25), PVCC (31), and WCU (35). Luke Linker came in second with his score of 74, less than a point behind PVCC's Corey Okst (74.67), followed by seniors Christopher Yablonski (72) and John Hunt (71), junior Elijah Haita (60.67), and freshman Maxwell Ozanne (60.33).

Then on Sunday, the Flames' snowboarders took center stage and showcased some spectacular aerial stunts in sweeping the top four spots. Rice won with a 140.33 total of his top two runs, followed by Mast (120.67), Hewitt (114.67), and Wilson (109.33), who also had impressive showings to lead Liberty to a 6-point total and give it a comfortable margin of victory over JMU (27), UVA (31), and PVCC (50).

Liberty men's skier Christopher Yablonski finished third in both the Rail Jam and Big Air events.  

Liberty's men's skiers posted the top three and four of the top five finishes, from Hunt (159), Linker (153.33), Yablonski (144.33), and Haita (fifth, 133.33) to total 6 points and win handily over UVA (24), WCU (31), and PVCC (32).

"John (Hunt) did a 540 and then a Rodeo 540, which is basically a flip and a spin together, on his top two runs and Luke (Linker) did a 360 flat full rotation and a Cork 720," Gibson said.

The Lady Flames' skiers had four of the top six finishes — from Keeran (first, 70.67), Weigner (third 39.67), Croley (27.33), and Suskie (22.67), to score 9 points and top UVA (13) and JMU (26). Without Leja, the Lady Flames' snowboarders were nipped by Virginia, 9-15, followed by JMU (21) despite a first-place showing by Orlando (104.33), who more than doubled the rest of the field with her top two runs.

Complete results are available online.

Liberty's skiers and snowboarders are training at Wintergreen Resort in preparation for the Feb. 29 USCSA Regional Championships at Blue Mountain (Pa.) Resort, where they will compete in slopestyle. That will serve as a qualifier for the March 10-14 USCSA National Championships at Lake Placid, N.Y.

This Saturday, in conjunction with College For A Weekend (CFAW), Liberty will host a DeMoss Rail Jam on the steps of DeMoss Hall, a non-USCSA event open to anyone with prize money involved.

The steps will be covered with padded Snowflex and if temperatures are cool enough, snow from the LaHaye Ice Center will be used to pad the landing area, which will also be covered with turf. 

Registration is set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m., followed by qualifying from 1-2:30 p.m. and finals at 3 p.m.


By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video edited by Same Petersen/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant

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