Imagine going to college to learn how to snowboard. A lot of people do it, actually. They're usually called "drop outs."
At Liberty University—the private Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia with it's own dry-slope ski area—it's an actual school program, and it's, not surprisingly, pretty cool. For the past two years, the Liberty University Snowflex Centre has held a tryout in the fall. Out of over 200 student applicants, 20 are selected for the Trails to Rails program. There is only one prerequisite: All applicants must have little to no experience on a snowboard.
"We want to show that people can go from never having snowboarded before all the way to hitting freestyle feature in less than two months," says the Liberty University Snowflex Centre's ski and snowboard school director Brent Washburn.
This past season, Trails to Rails selected 20 riders—10 men and 10 women for the program. They train for 1-2 months and at the end of the session have a contest. Drew Sherwood, manager of the Liberty University Snowflex Centre, says there is usually one wild card spot as well.
"The wild card is someone who tries out for the contest and doesn't get picked, but they continue to ride and practice on their own," says Sherwood. "Every time they practice we put their name into a drawing and one week before the contest we draw a name to compete in the Trails to Rails contest. The more they practice the better chance they have at making it. The reason for the wild card spot is to make sure everyone who signs up keeps riding. Instead of only introducing 15 new snowboarders to the sport we can introduce 200 hundred."
Trails to Rails rolled out three webisodes on the 2012 program. We will be debuting one a week every Wednesday here on MtnAdvisor.com over the next three weeks. Check back with the Liberty University Snowflex Centre's page this fall to learn about next the 2013 program.