Tom Ross: Vintage ski trail sign disappears from an Old Town storage shed
April 29, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Longtime Steamboat resident and former ski instructor Tim VanWyngarden is seeking the return of a classic piece of Steamboat Ski Area memorabilia that disappeared from the wall of a storage shed in his yard on Thornburgh Street earlier this month. Another way to put it might be to say that VanWyngarden wants his Concentration back.
We're talking about an old wooden ski trail sign emblazoned with the word "Concentration" on it, a black diamond on one end and an arrow on the other. Anybody who has hung around Mount Werner for a few seasons knows what the trail sign really means: "This way to steep lower mountain powder bumps. Best be focused on what you're doing if you pass this way."
And almost all of us know better than to risk incurring the wrath of the snow gods and the bad karma that goes with such a theft.
VanWyngarden said the sign was near and dear to his heart, and he was "pretty bummed about it" when his wife discovered Friday that it was missing.
"I just want that sign back. I think it was taken when we were out of town a couple of weeks ago," VanWyngarden said. "The shed and sign are visible, down a long driveway, when you drive down Uncochief. The shed is behind a 5-foot fence and gate. It took some nerve to get it down. (You) would need a boost from somebody, or a ladder."
Steamboat Ski Area spokesman Mike Lane said Tuesday that all of the resort's trail signs were updated about five years ago. They continue to be made in the ski area's own sign shop. Throughout the years, some of the past trail signs have been provided for auctions, but that practice has not been widespread.
The missing trail sign is made of carved wood, and it can't be replaced. VanWyngarden bought it from an older guy who was clearing out his garage. There were several to choose from, some with blue squares and green circles on them. Only the black diamond would do.
"I bought it at a garage sale near the mountain about six years ago," he said. "The older gentleman had a couple of these signs, but I was always fond of the run Concentration."
VanWyngarden is a Colorado native, and skiing long has been part of his life. He began teaching skiing at an early age.
"I worked as a ski instructor at Loveland Ski Area during high school when Jefferson County (in the western suburbs of Denver) was on year-round school and I had February and March off. We skied almost every day during those months in high school at Arvada West."
He went on to teach skiing at Steamboat from 1986 to 1989, moving up to private lessons after one year and with a summer stint in New Zealand. VanWyngarden started working at ACZ Laboratory in summer ’89 and is a business development manager as well as a geologist there today.
VanWyngarden filed a theft report with the Steamboat Springs Police Department and said they were very responsive. Anyone with information about the current status of the sign can reach the police department at 970-879-1144. Or, if it's more comfortable, leave me a phone message at work.
For what is a man without his Concentration?
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