Skip to main content

Steamboat Magazine

Introducing the Genuine Steamboat Award

01/23/2019 02:26PM ● By Alesha Damerville
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS- In our 40th year, we're proud to announce the Genuine Steamboat award. 

To be considered for the award, nominees must meet the following criteria:
- Unsung 
- Directly linked to the magazine over a period of time
- Participant in community service/ contribution over a period of time
- Warm, personable, hospitable (embodies Steamboat)
- Involved in one or more of our favorite subjects (Western spirit, environment, skiing, the arts)

The nominees for the first Genuine Steamboat are...


Rolly Wahl

Rolly's passion, dedication and ingenuity all came into play in the creation of Steamboat Magazine. Rolly Wahl and Charles Leckenby shared a dream to design and distribute a magazine focusing on Steamboat Springs and the surrounding areas. With few resources available, Wahl created a mockup of Steamboat Magazine, superimposing the envisioned masthead on nearby ski areas’ publications. 

Prototypes in hand, Wahl hit the streets. His enthusiasm impressed local businesses and, in no time, he found their first advertisers. 

Wahl’s dedication to Steamboat Magazine would continue to shine for another two decades, during which he wore a variety of hats. He worked as publisher and editor, and was a frequent contributing writer throughout the years. 

The Genuine Steamboat nomination for the 1970s and ‘80s is a shoo-in for Wahl. “He’s the nicest person you’d ever want to meet,” says Deb Olsen, Steamboat Magazine’s publisher.


Karen Vail 

A writer, photographer, Yampatika naturalist and botanist, Karen's goal is to inform people about nature in order to save it. She has long been featured both as a writer and a subject in the magazine, including in the Winter/Spring 1997 edition story, “Living Simply So Others Can Simply Live” by Geri Anderson.

Anderson wrote: “Botanist Karen Vail believes if people understand about flowers and grasses and trees, and the small animals who live among the flowers, grasses and trees, they’ll come to love them as she does.” We’ll support that goal as long as Vail wants to pursue it. 


Jennie Lay 

Jennie's started contributing to Steamboat Magazine in the mid-2000s, and she has been a vital part of the magazine since – serving first as the editor of Steamboat Springs Visitors’ Guide, and then taking over as editor of Steamboat Magazine in 2013. She is currently the magazine’s media editor. 

When she started writing for Steamboat Magazine, Lay wrote about topics dear to the magazine’s heart, from Western spirit in “Thundering Hooves” (Spring/Summer 2009) to the growing pains of a ski town in “Where Do We Go From Here?” (Winter 2005-06). But what makes her so important not only to the magazine, but to this community, is her passion for bettering the planet. 

Recognizing that Northwest Colorado is at “ground zero” of energy exploration, Lay has covered the topic consistently as a freelance writer (“Know Your Niobrara” Spring 2012). She has also stayed on top of scientific discoveries, ranging from her interview with astronaut Steve Swanson (Summer/Fall 2010) to the discovery of a previously unidentified species (Holiday 2009-10). Now a writer and editor for Natural Habitat Adventures, travel partner of the World Wildlife Fund, and adult programs coordinator for Bud Werner Memorial Library, she sheds light on the current environmental and political climate on a local and global scale.

Kent Vertrees 

Kent’s intense love for the great outdoors has inspired him to dedicate his life to protecting the most valuable resources of our community.

From helping outdoor enthusiasts safely make the most of backcountry ski sessions to educating and encouraging conscious respect of local waterways, Vertrees’ passion for both the planet and his community shines brightly. 

Vertrees has had an active role in Steamboat Magazine, working as its guest editor and sharing tips on safely navigating the Yampa Canyon in the Spring/Summer 2011 edition, plus contributing as a freelance writer in a number of other editions. 

As president of Friends of the Yampa, Vertrees works to promote the environmental and recreational integrity of the Yampa River and its tributaries with the goal of keeping the river accessible for all to enjoy. His work as an adjunct professor at Colorado Mountain College, teaching river and canyon orientation, assures that future generations will share in his devotion to their ecosystem.


Rod Hanna

In only the second edition of Steamboat Magazine, photojournalist Rod’s contribution was an article entitled “Vanishing Americana, Pat Mantle: A Latter-Day Cowboy.” The opening paragraph read: “He looks like he rode right out of Marlboro country, but his roots to the land are deeper and go a lot further back than that. This is your vintage cowboy here, folks, so step right up and be introduced to the genuine article, a man I’m proud to call a friend, Mr. Pat Mantle.” 

And boom, right there, Rod Hanna set the tone for Steamboat Magazine for decades to come. Through photography that captures the essence of the valley, its people and its places, accompanied by words that come alive off the pages, Steamboat Magazine has survived and thrived, thanks in large part to the talent of Rod Hanna.

In the intervening years, his work has consistently appeared on our pages, chronicling the changing landscape and reminding us time and again that we live in a special place. 

But that is only a single chapter in the story of Hanna’s involvement with the community. 

Already a veteran journalist when he arrived in Steamboat Springs in 1975 (his portfolio includes images of Martin Luther King, John Elway and Super Bowl I), Hanna became the vice president of marketing at the Steamboat Ski Area. For 25 years, through times of growth, challenge, drama and pride, he was the liaison between Steamboat and the world. Among his many accomplishments during this time was teaching the community about a new phenomenon called the “worldwide web,” and instilling a vision in all of us about what this could be.

After he “retired” from the ski area, he became CEO of Sidney Peak Ranch, a gated community and working ranch that pays tribute to a historic site while helping to preserve the valley’s ranchland.

The airport advisory board, Rotary Club, Arts Council and the Chamber have been beneficiaries of his volunteer spirit. Rod gets an idea in his head and transforms it into reality: the Hazie Werner Award is a prime example. 

Most recently, his leadership has taken the Steamboat Art Museum from an idea inspired by the late Helen Rehder, who donated the building to the city to house art, to one of the most up-and-coming art museums in the West.

And Steamboat Magazine? In the past year, he has allowed us to publish several of his images, including shots of Hazie Werner, Sleeping Giant and Buffalo Pass. Our ongoing hope is to live up to the expectations he has set for our readers.