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Steamboat Magazine

Boat People - Winter 2011

12/01/2011 01:00AM ● By Anonymous

I Am Iron Man: Magill, in the speed suit that helped him go a cheek-puffing 147 mph.

Winter 2011

Speed Demon Tim Magill

By John Morse

Steamboat Springs, CO - 147 mph. Have you gone this fast in your car?  If so, I’m impressed — but try opening the window and sticking your head out next time.

Now imagine 147 mph on skis. Imagine dropping straight down a 50-degree slope with only a thin layer of rubber and a teardrop-shaped helmet between you and the worst accident of your life. Imagine crashing and getting up to try again.

Tim Magill, 51, has done all of this and more. “I always feel some anxiety at the top — I’d be more worried if I wasn’t nervous,” says the local speed skier about schussing faster than terminal velocity. “Then I tell myself that there’s no jump at the bottom to worry about. The experience is hard to describe … it’s like skiing on the breath of God.”

Born and raised in Steamboat Springs, Magill grew up racing with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. In the 1963 Winter Carnival, he placed third in the Little Toots Downhill and first in the jumping event, and he has done it ever since. “Howelsen Hill trained me,” he says.

In many ways Magill embodies the ethos of SSWSC. Not only was he a “four-way skier” (Nordic, jumping, downhill and slalom), but after his competitive days he returned to the club to coach. “I always admired those athletes who returned to the sports club to coach and give back to the program,” he says. “I wanted to do the same.” 

While at SSWSC, Magill learned the value of tuning from Buddy Werner himself. He remembers Werner telling him, “Don’t trust your skis to anyone else.” Magill took this advice to heart, perfecting the fastest tunes possible on his race skis, launching his career as a professional tuner as a teenager when he traded-out tunes for a nespeed suit; today he’s the head ski tuner at Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare, where he’s managed the department since 1996. 

And he’s far from finished with his other skiing career. Jumping as strongly as he did in his first professional jump 35 years ago (“I couldn’t accept the prize money because I wanted to retain my amateur status for downhill racing,” he says), he’s still holding out hope to beat his personal best of 321 feet. He’s showing no signs of slowing down in the speed events, either. He has made five trips to Europe in search of speed records, his cheek-puffing 147-mph showing coming in 2006, placing him as the seventh fastest American ever.

But his pace of life is markedly slower, which is exactly hohe likes it, living on an old family mining claim near Hahn’s Peak, where he can ski out his front door. “The gold may not be in the mountain — it’s on the mountain,” he says.

Recycling Restaurateur 

Liz Wahl

Greening the way we eat

By Jennie Lay

Eco-friendly Eatery: Liz Wahl and the silverware fruits of her labor..

NEXT TIME YOU’RE AT THUNDERHEAD devouring pizza off a real plate or pumping ketchup instead of prying open individual packets, thank Liz Wahl. It’s one of many things that garnered her the National Ski Area Association’s Silver Eagle Award for cutting waste and the Colorado Association for Recycling Award as 2010 Person of the Year.

Wahl, 49, may have started out as a ski town chef, but she didn’t let her bachelor’s degree in environmental planning languish. “It killed me homuch waste we had — it was a cancer eating at my soul when I went to work each day,” Wahl says of her early days at the ski area. During five years as Ski Corp.’s food and beverage manager, her constant mission has been “Steamboat can do better” and her ideas are trickling down to other organizations and resorts around Colorado. 

She regularly offers herself as a sounding board to business owners, nonprofits, event coordinators and students: “I’m a tree hugger, but I still have a bottom line to meet. You, too, can afford this,” she advises.

Each year Wahl takes on a nemountain restaurant. First it was the Stoker, then the kids’ Round-up Room. This year, it’s Thunderhead — hence those nemetal chili spoons and re-usable fry baskets. “Hodo you possibly strive for zero waste? There’s no zero, but it gives you a goal,” Wahl says. “I’d like Steamboat to be the greenest town in North America. It should be easy here. I’ve never lived somewhere where so many people are so passionate.”

Reducing ski area waste by about 80 percent was a straightforward process: “Save a dime, spend a dime,” she says. Among other things, they nosave on hauling as much as 250 gallons of trash per day.

Creating commercial-scale composting was key. Sitting on Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s board, Wahl not only launched the community’s Zero Waste program for concerts and events, but she put serious elbogrease into realizing Twin Enviro’s composting facility in Milner. Within a month of the facility’s completion, Wahl had Ski Corp. feeding the system. Noeveryone from container gardeners to landscapers relies on the locally produced compost.

“We agreed to be the pioneers,” Wahl says, acknowledging her employer was the biggest business harboring enough daily food waste to jump-start the system. “Food waste … when you put it in the landfill, you’re robbing future generations of those nutrients. It’s morally wrong. Our soil needs this stuff.” At home she, her husband, Chris, and 15-year-old son, Charlie, follow suit with an electric counter-top composter that yields two gallons of dirt per week. They saved it all year to build a 15-row garden last summer.

“My job is keeping people healthy and that’s not just what they eat,” she says. “It’s about what we dump back into the environment, too. Plastic-wrapped ketchup is a sin.”

That’s why you nopump it at Thunderhead Lodge and eat your burgers off real plates — it’s all part of Wahl’s way of making our mountain town greener.