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    March 8, 2022 Lake Placid, N.Y. RSS |

    It was a historic first day of competition at the United States Ski & Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships for Liberty University’s women’s ski and snowboard teams, which captured individual and team gold medals in both Rail Jams, held on the Base of Bear at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, N.Y., site of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games’ ski events.

    “We were incredibly pleased with the turnout and how things turned out,” Flames and Lady Flames Head Coach Isaac Gibson said. “The first day of competition could not have gone better. All of our women’s snowboarders made finals and all four of our skiers. To not only take two more individual titles (as senior Coleen Leja had in 2020 at Lake Placid), but to take the first two national team titles in program history was incredible. It has been awesome to watch and see the women’s program grow and develop to get to this point, so it was a treat to watch them perform (on Tuesday).”

    Lady Flames senior Emory Orlando captured a gold medal in the women’s snowboard event with her 93.0-point run, edging Sierra Nevada’s Margaret Galloway (91.33), while senior Samantha Pesile (90.67) earned a bronze in the field of 20 snowboarders. Also for Liberty, which placed all five of its riders in the top eight with extremely balanced performances, freshman Anna Meyer finished fifth with an 87-point run, junior Emmaus Rich (84) came in seventh, and senior Regan Robinson (82.33) followed in eighth.

    Liberty’s women’s snowboarders totaled 9 points in the team competition to land atop the podium beside Sierra Nevada University (second, 18) and Lees-McRae College (40). The University of Southern California (46), the University of Virginia (50), San Diego State University (53), and Dartmouth College (60) rounded out the field.

    In the women’s ski contest, Liberty was even more impressive, winning with 6 team points as it outperformed Virginia (29), Rocky Mountain College (35), San Diego State (36), the University of Colorado Boulder (40), Lafayette College (50), and Rutgers University (50).

    Freshman skier Lauren Harder claimed a gold medal in the women’s ski Rail Jam. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Smith)

    The Lady Flames placed all four of their skiers in the top eight out of a total of 17 competitors, led by a gold-medal run from freshman Lauren Harder, a silver-medal showing by sophomore Josie Rich, and a bronze-medal performance by freshman Isabella Tinney completing a clean sweep of the podium. Senior Meghan Weigner finished eighth.

    On Whiteface Mountain’s nearby Wolf Run, Liberty’s men’s snowboarders placed four in the top 25 out of 45 contestants in the Boarder Cross races, paced by senior Tyler Sherbine’s 10th-place finish with a 43.10-second time trial for 26 points. Freshman Jayden Horrocks came in 16th with his time trial of 45.56 seconds and 15-point finish, followed by senior Ian Rosario (19th, 45.56, 12) and junior Jesse Mast (22nd, 46.12, 9).

    They led the Flames to a best-ever third-place team finish in that event with 45 points, trailing only Sierra-Nevada University (8) and Lees-McCrae (N.C.) College (32). The University of Wisconsin Madison (53), UVA (66), the University of Minnesota-Duluth (67),  the University of North Carolina Charlotte (74), James Madison University (81), San Diego State University (84), and Michigan Technological University (90) rounded out the top 10 among 13 complete teams.

    “That was awesome to see that happen,” Gibson said of the men’s snowboarders landing on the Boarder Cross podium. “That was also a first for the team.”

    Complete results are available online.

    Gibson said more than 500 student-athletes in all four divisions (men’s and women’s skiing and snowboarding) have registered for the USCSA National Championships, the first to take place since before the pandemic canceled the final day of the 2020 competition.

    “There are still a good number of schools here, even from California and Nevada, including Sierra Nevada, which is generally one of our biggest competitors,” he said.

    Action will continue with the women’s Boardercross and Skiercross and men’s Rail Jams on Wednesday and the men’s and women’s skiing Slopestyle competitions on Thursday before concluding with Friday’s men’s and women’s snowboard Slopestyle events and Saturday’s awards presentations.

    See the full schedule on the USCSA site.