Jeff Temple

From the land


Jeff Temple's earliest memories of Steamboat are of bouncing up the lower flanks of Storm Mountain in a battered red Willy's with his father, Jim.

"They were just beginning to build the first ski trails and I loved seeing that D8 bulldozer," Jeff recalls.

Jim Temple was among the original pioneers of the Steamboat Ski Area, and devoted the years of 1956-1961 to establishing the trails on Storm Mountain, as Mount Werner was known in those days.

Jeff can also remember being included in a party of about five men who made their way to the top of Storm Mountain from Rabbit Ears Pass and walked down.

"I was just 4 or 5 (years old)," Jeff said. "We were walking down the mountain to see where the trails would go."

Included in the party were a couple of Jeff's heroes, Loris and Buddy Werner, the Olympic ski racers.

"I remember that I lost one of my shoes in the dark. So first, my Dad carried me and then Buddy carried me for a while."

Little Jeff was in awe. He kept a scrapbook with newspaper clippings of all of Buddy's exploits on the ski slopes of North America and Europe.

The day in April 1964, when he had to paste in the final clipping about Buddy's tragic death in a Swiss avalanche was one of the darkest in his young life.

"He was a hero," Jeff said simply.

Jeff wasn't born in Steamboat Springs, but he can say he was born at a ski area literally.

"I was a lodge baby," Jeff smiled. "There are about 400 of us," who were born in the infirmary at Sun Valley Lodge in Idaho. "It was a long, long way to Twin Falls," so most of the maternity cases in the mid '50s were handled in the same room where broken tibias were treated.

Jeff wasn't born in the Sun Valley Lodge because his mother, Audrey, went on a ski vacation when she was nine months pregnant; Jim Temple was the head of the ski patrol in Sun Valley and Audrey worked in the restaurant at the lodge.

Audrey Temple is the former Audrey Light, granddaughter of Frank M. Light, founder of the landmark downtown business, F.M. Light and Sons, and one of the first competitive female skiers in Ski Town U.S.A.

The Temple family returned to Routt County from Idaho and Jim and Audrey ranched on the Little Snake River, near the Wyoming line. Jeff's early boyhood years were split among ski racing on Howelsen Hill, doing summer chores on his grandparents', Shorty and Lucy Temples' Focus Ranch near Slater, and prospecting the streams around Steamboat for trout with his brother Jamie and grandfather Clarence Light.

"Grandfather Light had a bamboo rod and he swore by a royal coachman (fly pattern), although sometimes we'd put a live grasshopper on the hook," Jeff recalled.

Another boyhood hero was Olympic downhiller Jim "Moose" Barrows. Barrows probably never knew it, but Jeff was in his mother Maureen's kindergarten class in Steamboat, and she read his letters home from Europe out loud to the children in her class.

"The letters got read on Fridays," Temple recalled. "We were just mesmerized."

The Temples moved to Boulder when Jeff was in third grade, but he continued ski racing for Vail.

Jeff went to the University of Colorado where he competed for Coach Bill Marolt on the Buffalo ski team that won the NCAA championship four years in a row. Jeff, a talented slalom skier and captain of the CU squad, was named All-American.

"Our team was expected to win," Jeff said. "I remember my senior year in 1976 we tied with Dartmouth and Bill was unhappy all the way home."

Marolt, now CEO of the U.S. Ski Team, said Temple was a quiet leader.

"He does have a competitive fire," Marolt said. "You don't have to be boisterous or outgoing to be a leader. He has a great personality for what he does."

Marolt said Temple's strength was in alpine skiing's technical events.

"He was very good in both slalom and GS," Marolt said. "Clearly, he was motivated to be the best he could be."

Jeff went on to race as a pro, but he had studied more than skiing in college and wanted to put his degree in finance to use.

"I really liked school and really fell in love with Boulder," Temple said.

He met Canadian Dave Jacobs at a pro ski race at Eldora outside Boulder where Jacobs was promoting early prototypes of a new ski racing sweater. The sweater contained extra padding for skiers who tended to bang the gates with the latissimus muscles in their back in those days.

"I asked him to test my sweaters and he asked me to loan him $1,500 to pay his entry fees for a year on the circuit," Jacobs recalled. "He promised he would pay it back, but I didn't really expect him to. He did pay back the loan."

The two men formed a bond, as Temple began selling the sweaters on the race circuit, and Jacobs had occasion to ask Temple for a loan to get through some tough times after a divorce. Together, they made plans to grow the company that would become a leading ski clothing manufacturer, Spyder.

"We started a company out of his garage," Jeff said. "Our first product was a padded racing sweater that we sold by mail order. I packed and invoiced the very first order."

Jacobs said that during those early days in Boulder, he and Temple lived a "work hard, play hard," lifestyle.

"We used to do a lot of speed hiking in the canyons outside Boulder and went for maximum heart rate," Jacobs said. They were both road cycling enthusiasts and loved to hitch up with some of the elite riders based in Boulder and see if they could stick with them on training rides.

"Talk about pain," Jacobs recalled.

That first sweater eventually became a hit that racked up $70,000 in sales. And Spyder, with its distinctive logo of a nasty looking arachnid poised to pounce in its web, was destined to become a major player in the ski clothing industry.

"He was a very large driving force in keeping that company going," Jacobs, who is still the president of Spyder, said.

Building Spyder into the major ski industry player that it became required significant business savvy.

"A lot of guys might have lost their company, but we were able to log yearly growth," Jeff said modestly.

Jeff traveled the world arranging for offshore manufacturing for Spyder and working on marketing deals. Acting on advice from Marolt, who was the athletic director at C.U. at the time, he scored a major coup when he convinced the national teams of Norway, Sweden and Yugoslavia to wear Spyder's race clothing.

"We had really fast downhill suits," Jeff said. Eventually, Jeff convinced the U.S. Ski Team to let Spyder sponsor its racers.

Jeff was 39 years old when he decided he wanted to do his own thing and Jacobs agreed to cash him out of Spyder.

"I'd really been married to Spyder for all those years," Jeff said. "I worked very hard."

When Jeff decided to leave the company as vice president and general manager, the Spyder was doing $10 million in sales annually.

"Jeff ran the company," Jacobs said. "When he left it was really tough for me. He was the kind of guy who was on everything that moved. He was very organized and very focused."

Instead of being married to his company, Jeff wanted to marry his girlfriend, Kim, and they took off on a summer-long honeymoon ramble that included camping across the western U.S. and motorcycle touring in Europe. During the balance of his year off, Jeff cooked up a brainstorm with his brother Jamie, who was coaching skiing at the time. Jeff had an idea for a product that would allow frequent fliers to remove their music CDs from their rigid jewel cases and transport them in a compact, soft sided wallet instead. The company, Case Logic, became a tremendous success, hitting $60 million in annual sales, and Jamie eventually sold the company.

Jamie acquired a 33-acre plot of land on the edge of Frisco, bordering Lake Dillon, and the two brothers decided to undertake their first real estate development.

Waterdance included 38 townhomes and 55 single family homes, winning a "builder of the year award."

"I was really nervous about it," Jeff confesses, "But the timing happened to be good and we put together a really quality team of professionals including the architect, land planners and other consultants."

Jamie's sale of Case Logic had increased his personal wealth substantially and he began searching all over the west for a ranch to purchase. He searched from Squaw Valley to Jackson, Jeff said.

"He was looking for a working ranch with water, with the number-one criteria that it was close to a good ski area.

Jamie Temple settled on Storm Mountain Ranch just south of his childhood home in Steamboat Springs. The ranch encompasses Walton Creek Canyon and is within three miles of the ski area.

"There was no plan to develop the ranch at all zero," Jeff said. But as the two brothers began looking into conservation easements that would keep much of the ranch in ag production in perpetuity, they arrived at the notion of creating limited development that would spread the cost of properly maintaining the more than 1,000-acre property.

As 2001 began, they had successfully marketed 12 homesites on the ranch at prices ranging from $2.5 to 2.7 million. In the process they created a lodge and cabins for the use of their owners and guests, which are managed by former Olympic downhiller Craig Thrasher, who grew up in Steamboat. They created 10 acres of lakes and ponds stocked with trophy trout and three miles of new stream heavily planted with native grasses and shrubs. The ranch still produces 120 tons of hay overseen by longtime ranch manager Tim Reynolds.

Jeff and Kim are excited about raising their two young sons here.

"I think this community does more for kids that any place I've seen in my life," Jeff said.


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