Skiers and snowboarders put on shows for CFAW crowds, dominate USCSA Big Air, Rail Jam
Liberty University’s ski & snowboard teams showcased the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre (LMSC) to other Southeast Conference teams, as well as prospective students in town for College For A Weekend (CFAW), during Friday night’s Snowflex Demo Day , Saturday night’s USCSA Big Air, and Sunday morning’s USCSA Rail Jam.
“The Demo Day was a lot of fun and it allowed spectators to see what the facility Is capable of and for potential students to know they can come up here and learn how to ski and snowboard and keep progressing, especially in the freestyle area,” Liberty Head Coach Isaac Gibson said. “Saturday was probably the busiest day we’ve had all year. Students were able to take it all in and enjoy the beautiful view and take advantage of the year-round facility we’re blessed with here.”
The Flames’ and Lady Flames’ riders and skiers used the home-slope advantages to their favor in sweeping all but the men’s snowboard Big Air event, winning each of the other seven team competitions.
“We were fortunate enough to be able to practice (on Snowflex) through the fall semester, to get our tricks really consistent, learn new tricks, and continue progressing,” Gibson said. “Now we are making sure we will be able to put those tricks down when it counts in a contest.”
Sophomore Coby Liebelt led a 1-2-3-4 sweep by Liberty’s men’s ski team with a 123.67 best run score.
“Coby put down a 360 (-degree trick) and on his last run landed a 720,” Gibson said. “That was actually his first time ever trying that trick, and he was able to put it down in the contest and be rewarded for it with the first-place position.”
Liebelt was followed by junior teammate Luke Linker (106.67), graduate Elijah Haita (103.67), and freshman Charlie Barkow (76) as the Flames totaled 6 points to finish well in front of teams from Virginia (22), JMU (34) and UNC Chapel Hill (36).
Liberty’s women’s snowboarders finished first in the Big Air team standings with 9 points, ahead of Appalachian State (17) and Virginia (19) as seniors Emory Orlando (first, 63) and Samantha Pesile (second, 51) landed on the podium.
Lees-McRae (N.C.) College won the men’s snowboard Big Air team competition with 10 points, based on its first-, second-, and seventh-place riders, followed closely by the Flames (14), who landed in third (senior Tyler Sherbine, 99), fifth (junior Benjamin Scully, 63.3), and sixth (junior Jesse Mast, 62.3). Liberty placed ahead of teams from UVA and Appalachian State (who tied for third with 33 team points) and JMU (fifth, 45).
Sophomore Josephine Rich won both the women’s ski Big Air and Rail Jam competitions, edging UVA’s Catherine DeScisciolo in the Big Air, 57.67-52 to help the Lady Flames nip the Cavaliers, 11-14, as a team before leading a 1-2-3 Liberty sweep in the Rail Jam. Tinney also finished fourth in the Big Air with her 31.67 score.
Rich scored a 58.33 on her best Rail Jam run to skim past teammates senior Meghan Weigner (54) and freshman Isabella Tinney (41.33) for a 6-point team total that placed it ahead of Virginia and UNC (18, tied for second).
“Josy Rich did an incredible job,” Gibson said. “She has been making a ton of progression and is getting really consistent so we are excited to see her develop over the next couple years. She has been learning new tricks as a sophomore and performing them well in her first season of actual competition at the collegiate level.”
Linker (51), Barkow (50), Haita (47.67), Oliver Harner (43.67), and Liebelt (42.33) paced Liberty’s men’s ski team to a 1-through-5 sweep in the Rail Jam for 6 team points to outperform UVA (24), UNC (30), and JMU (39).
Liberty found its edge against Lees-McRae in the men’s snowboard Rail Jam with Sherbine (second, 67) and Mast (third, 53.67) posting the highest scores to post a 12-15 team win, distancing itself from UVA (29), ASU (31), and JMU (50).
The Lady Flames won even more impressively over Lees-McRae, UVA, ASU, and JMU paced by Pesile (first, 42.33), Orlando (third, 41.33), and Maggie Burris (fourth, 33).
Liberty will travel to Wintergreen Resort — in nearby Nelson County, where it has season passes and trains regularly on Thursdays — for this Sunday’s USCSA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, a Slopestyle competition starting at 9 a.m. Sunday. The event will include qualifiers from the Southeast, Allegheny, Atlantic Highlands, Mideast, and Eastern conferences.
“I am curious to see what the competition will look like (at regionals),” Gibson said. “The national event is going to be a little bit smaller than in previous years as quite a few schools out West have faced pretty heavy COVID restrictions.”
Rain is forecast for Tuesday through Friday and sunny skies and mild temperatures are expected for the weekend.
“We are praying that the rain doesn’t melt all of the snow up there,” Gibson said. “They have built an awesome jump up there compared to years past. They have pretty good rails set up and at least one jump, if not two.”
The Flames and Lady Flames will look to qualify complete teams to travel to the USCSA National Championships at Lake Placid, N.Y., where they fared extremely well at the 2020 nationals before the final day was cut short by the onset of the pandemic.
“If they allow us to have the full team at regionals (with exemptions for injuries), it could be the largest team we’ve had there, and nationals will be the same way,” Gibson said, noting that three competitors comprise a complete team and five is the most a team can enter into each discipline.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer