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Professional skier using Liberty University ski slope to train for 2014 Winter Olympics

For the next two years, Jay Panther will be training at the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center: an artificial ski slope owned by Liberty University

November 03, 2011|Tim Saunders | Reporter/Lynchburg Bureau Chief

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Jay Panther laces up his ski boots with big dreams in mind.

"My ultimate goal is to compete in the olympics," said Panther.  "The next one is in 2014 in Sochi, Russia."

Sking was an obvious career for a guy who grew up at Lake Tahoe in Nevada, surrounded by ski resorts.

"I started skiing when I was four and saw my first mogul course when I was nine years old," said Panther.

Of all the ski slopes he's seen in his life, Panther has settled on one in Lynchburg for his professional training.

"I instantly realized how amazing this place was," said Panther.  "There was a ton of training opportunities for me here."

For the next two years, Panther will be training at the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center: an artificial ski slope owned by Liberty University.  He first learned about the complex a few months ago.

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"I was impressed right off the bat," said Panther.  "We looked at the mountain and said 'that looks like a pretty cool playground! I think I can have some fun up there!'"

Before he found Snowflex, Panther was training on slopes in Switzerland.  Liberty University and Lynchburg have proven to be a much cheaper option.

"To ski at a ski resort, it's $100-per-day, and to get a private lesson it's $800-per-day," said Panther.

Snowflex is saving Panther thousands.  In return he's giving back, offering free lessons to nearly 800 LU students.  He's also advertising the facility to his friends and fellow pros.

"It definitely helps our facility out, just making people aware of the ability it can offer people, by advancing even an Olympic athlete," said Drew Sherwood, General Manager of the Snowflex complex.

"The next step is getting my friends and fellow competitors out here and letting them fall in love with this place and find the value in it like I have," Panther said.

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