Saturday, September 29, 2001
Steamboat Springs After 32 years, Timmy Meagher will finally realize one of his earliest childhood dreams.
Early next year, when the Olympic Games open in Salt Lake City, Meagher will be on hand to take part.
"Going to the Olympics has always been one of my goals," Meagher said. "But this wasn't quite how I pictured it."
Meagher grew up playing hockey and for most of his life pictured himself as a member of the U.S. Hockey Team.
He was extremely competitive through high school and was drafted to play minor league hockey in Washington after graduation.
"The first thing I discovered is that most of those guys were about 60 pounds heavier than me," Meagher said. "I was a good skater so I could get away, but they usually caught me in the corner and beat me up."
So, at the ripe old age of 18, Meagher gave up his hockey dreams and, while visiting Steamboat, discovered the world of freestyle skiing.
Under the watchful eyes of coach Park Smalley, Meagher grew into a world-class skier. By the time he was 24, he was among the top 25 skiers in the United States.
"I got a late start," Meagher said. "But I focused 100 percent on skiing and it was really paying off."
That was until injuries slowed his skiing career to a crawl. It was a bad back that eventually ended his dream of making it to the Olympic Games as a skier.
But Meagher's desire to make it to the games didn't end there.
He turned his attention to coaching and in the back of his mind dreamed of someday coaching top skiers at the Olympics. It was a strange twist of events as Meagher's invitation to one of the world's biggest sporting events came from a completely different place.
"It's funny how things get twisted around," Meagher said. "They came to me a couple of years ago and offered me the job as chief of course. It was a great honor."
So, after years of skating and skiing, Meagher's big break came after Steamboat hosted a World Cup event. He impressed the right people and was asked to fill the position as chief of the mogul course in Deer Valley.
"I still wake up and pinch myself and say 'Timmy Meagher is going to the Olympics sweet,'" he said.
The only draw back is that the job will consume so much of his time that Meagher will no longer be able to fill his position as an ability coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's freestyle team. While he is gone, Olympic Bronze medalist Nelson Carmichael will fill his shoes.
Meagher said he doesn't really mind the 15- to 16-hour days that will be required during the Games and the Gold Cup, which will be held in December.
He will leave for the Olympics Jan. 24 and will be working until Feb. 11. During that time, his typical day will begin with him arriving at the Champion mogul course by 6 a.m. He expects to be off the mogul course by 6 p.m., in time for team leaders' meetings. By the time he gets back to his room in Park City it will be 9 p.m.
"It's going to be hard work," Meagher said. "But that's good."
Meagher admits that he is a little nervous headed into the events. The International Ski Federation (FIS) has mandated a different mogul pattern to challenge the skiers at the Games. Meagher said the bumps will be closer together and laid out in a slightly different pattern. The changes will be unveiled at the Games.
The challenge for Meagher and the 45 volunteers he has working with him is to make the course challenging enough to push all the skiers.
"I want to make it tough enough to challenge every skier in the Olympics, but it also has to be(a) course so that one skier can put it to shame," Meagher said.