LYNCHBURG, Va. (BP) — Liberty University could be headed to the 2014 Winter Olympics on the back of freestyle skier Jay Panther, who will promote the Christian campus on slopes around the world as he bids for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.
Liberty, based in Lynchburg, Va., will be Panther’s title sponsor, a spot usually reserved for companies selling sports drinks or ski gear. Partnering with a Christian university makes perfect sense for him, Panther said at a news conference at the university’s Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre.
“It’s huge for me to have my values and Liberty’s values be in line,” Panther said. “To be able to promote a Christian lifestyle, a Christian university, is an amazing opportunity for me.”
Liberty spokesman Johnnie Moore said the university has used a variety of opportunities to promote the campus. Partnering with Panther gives Liberty a chance to promote its ski facility, which includes a two-story lodge, and to support someone who shares the university’s values, Moore said.
“He’s interested in the university, and we’re interested in helping support people like Jay, who are committed Christians and have big ambitions,” Moore said in the Jan. 10 news conference.
Moore declined to say how much the sponsorship would cost the university.
Panther, 27, first came to Liberty last fall, when he trained at the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre. The artificial slope, which includes several jumps and a course for snowboarders, is open year-round, giving Panther a training advantage.
Panther, who is from Louisville, Ky., won the 2012 World Cup starts at the U.S. Freestyle Selections Event in Steamboat Springs, Colo., in December, earning the right to compete in the Freestyle World Cup moguls event Jan. 19-21 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
During his first round of training at Liberty, Panther addressed the school’s weekly convocation, telling students he learned about the campus and its ski slope from his pastor, a Liberty alum.
As part of his sponsorship agreement, Panther will coach the school’s ski team and give general instruction at the ski facility, where he will continue to train. He also will represent Liberty during an upcoming tour of churches, schools and businesses.
“Snowflex,” according to the university, is “a synthetic material designed to simulate the slip and grip effects of snow. The most innovative surface on the market, Snowflex has a patented misting system that keeps it moist, maximizing speed and edge control. Snowflex retains its shape year-round, so riders can progressively sharpen their technique on its various contours. Unlike previous terrain technologies, Snowflex has multiple layers to cushion skiers and snowboarders if they should fall.”
Leigh Jones is a writer for World News Service. Used by permission.