Competing for cash

Steps to skis, backpacks to boarders

cool as money — Appropriately in time for the Winter X-Games, the DeMoss Rail Jam featured snowboarders and skiers from Liberty, as well as up and down the East Coast, putting their best skills and spills on display. The winners in the snowboarding and skiing categories each won a grand prize of $1,000 cash to take home.

There were no students lugging heavy backpacks up and down the steps of DeMoss, per usual, Saturday night. Instead, there were skiers and snowboarders competing in a freestyle competition, flipping and flying through the air at the DeMoss Rail Jam, Jan. 29 at 7:00 p.m.

The DeMoss Rail Jam was an individual freestyle, ski and snowboarding competition hosted by Liberty’s Snowflex Centre. Liberty University students from the ski and snowboarding teams as well as students from along the east coast competed for a $1,000 grand prize.

Amidst the steady rhythmic beat of techno music, the excited cheers of hundreds of fans and the commentary and jokes of emcees, junior Ethan Acree and second year graduate student Brent Blakeney, the jam kicked off with the snowboarding qualifiers.

“DeMoss has never looked so good,” Blakeney said to the lively crowd.

Along with some impressive tricks that got the crowd cheering, there were some impressive spills. Contestants hit the box and the rail mid trick and either face-planted into the snow or landed flat on their backs. Each spill was followed by a groan or a gasp from the audience.

Austin Leonard from Boone, N.C. won the $1,000 grand prize for snowboarding. Ross Rowan, a senior from Appalachian State, won the grand prize for skiing.

Leonard and Rowan drove to Liberty together for the jam, Leonard said.

Coming in second for snowboarding was Jack Schuster. Ryan Holland took third place. Second place for skiing went to Tanner Sinclair while third place went to Matt Rogers.

The tricks that got the crowd really cheering were the flips. Several attempts from both snowboarders and skiers were made to complete a front flip off the box. The trick was finally landed by Tanner Sinclair. He landed it on his second attempt and the crowd erupted.

The onlookers were particularly supportive of junior and Liberty Ski Team captain Timothy Steltzer. In the finals of the skiing part of the competition, Steltzer lost a ski during a trick, yet landed it. He also attempted a rodeo flip four times. Each attempt filled the audience with more anticipation than the last. When he landed his fourth attempt, the cheers were deafening.

Also competing was Liberty Snowboarding team captain, senior Kevin Manguiob. Manguiob made it past the qualifiers and into the finals.

“The crowd definitely pushed me to try something I never did before,” Manguiob said.

Not only was the crowd cheering for the competitors, they were cheering for the prizes and giveaways that were offered at the jam and enthusiastically handed out by Acree and Blakeney. Freebies included T-shirts and hats that were thrown into the audience. Raffle prizes were ear-buds, a Nintendo DS, an iPod, a PlayStation 3 and a flat screen television.

The unique setup and style of the jam was the fact that it was built and performed on the stairway of DeMoss Hall.

“This is a different style event than what has been held up at the Snowflex Centre,” Liberty Ski and Snowboard team head coach Eric Hegreness said. “In this event, riders will be hitting a much tougher rail setup that will be located over a set of stairs – similar to a skateboarder hitting a rail in a city. So I am really excited to see what riders are going to step out and perform technical rail tricks on an urban style set up. This event won’t be one for the novice or intermediate freestyle skier or boarder.”

The down rail, built especially for the jam, featured a flat section at the end of it and was set up directly over the stairs. One false move while on the rail put the competitor on the pavement.

“This type of rail is a really hard rail to land tricks on, which should make for an entertaining night,” Manguiob said.

The jam also featured a 15-foot long flat box that pointed directly out of the stairs, finishing with an 8-foot-tall drop to the ground, Manguiob said.

The DeMoss Rail Jam brought skiers and snowboarders, flips and spills and big wins and newly attempted tricks to the steps of DeMoss.

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