Hittin’ the slopes for team tryouts

SHREDDIN’ THE SNOWFLEX — (above and below) Liberty students hit the slopes at Snowflex on Saturday to try out for the Freestyle Ski and Snowboard club team.

Since opening the new Snoflex ski and snowboarding complex last year, Liberty University has attracted a new brand of audiences from around the country. Founders of the Liberty Ski and Snowboard club team, Will Scheren and Eric Hegreness, held tryouts and scouted various skiers and snowboarders around the campus Oct. 30.

Both coaches already have a plan for the 10 to 12 skiers and snowboarders they want on the team.

“We’ve been watching all year long so we have a pretty good idea already of who’s going to be on the team. Tryouts were based on a combination of how they did what we’ve seen from them and how quickly they can progress,” Scheren said.
Some riders are returning with talent and notoriety. Scheren was featured in a photo from Snowboarder Magazine, and fellow snowboarder Myles Stark acquired a sponsor last year from Humanity Snowboards.

The team is in its Southeast Conference, regulated by the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA). Liberty hopes to invite additional prestigious schools to compete against and sharpen their competition.  Skiing and snowboarding coaches Hegreness and Scheren are not only coaching the members of the Liberty team, but they also are forming the college series for the Southeast Conference.

“We’ve been going out to schools and requesting (for) them to compete.  The University of Maryland already has signed up with us, as well as Virginia Tech and Radford and Lynchburg College,” Hegreness said.

The team travels across the U.S., competing against other USCSA schools.

“Under the USCSA we travel to different resorts around the U.S. We join their events and make our own college series.  So we pull out the scores from all the riders and compare them,” Hegreness said.

In 2009, Liberty riders qualified for nationals but were not able to travel to Colorado to compete.

“This year we hope to get these riders out to Colorado so they will be able to compete against the best riders in the U.S,” Hegreness said.

Due to the early success of the club, Liberty will sponsor the riders.

“They will be sponsored by Liberty so they will be wearing the Liberty gear, and even if they ride at nationals they will still be under Liberty,” Scheren said.

The coaches’ main focus and goal is to win the Appalachian series, and gradually advance to a higher peak throughout the season.

“We pretty much want to win the Appalachian series in every discipline. With the teams that are going, it should be manageable goal. But our main focus is to attain attention for the ski team, [expand] the series and [get] more colleges involved,” Hegreness said.

The big picture is for the riders to receive notoriety at the national level.

“Being that we are a club sport, we don’t get the grants and scholarships, but these guys are very competitive with (snowboarding) so we try to get them in the spotlight,” Scheren said.

In only the club’s second year, the coaches and the team are looking forward to achieving all of their goals this season with the talent and determination of rider and coach alike.

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