Joel Reichenberger: Magill looks past injury

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— There were plenty of reasons for Tim Magill to skip this year's trip to a number of world speed skiing competitions in Europe.

He said the organizers behind the events had yet to schedule a "fast" track (keep in mind, Magill doesn't just throw the word "fast" around - you can't when your goal is to ski 150 miles per hour).

He said the plummeting value of the dollar would have made a trip this year almost prohibitively expensive, and he had plenty of work keeping him in country. Then, there was the looming danger inherent in the sport - one of Magill's friends and fellow competitors, Caitlin Tovar, died in a race last year.

It isn't the fear of breakneck speeds or a horrible crash that has kept Steamboats' fastest man on fiberglass in park this spring, however. Rather, it was slip up on Howelsen Hill, a fine ski area to be sure, but one infinitely less dangerous than the icy drops down the Alps Magill so loves.

"I ended up falling and breaking my collarbone," Magill explained, pulling back the top part of his shirt to reveal a deep and jagged 4-inch scar high on his chest. "It wasn't exciting. I wasn't going fast or jumping. I just fell and went down hard."

Magill, who sustained his injury Feb. 29, said he was concerned about the state of the sport and the safety of its competitors. But that hasn't been enough - not even close - to detach him from it.

Posters of other competitors still line his work area at Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare, a long glance at any summons a story and a discussion of strategy, times and speed.

He stays in touch with his friends still skiing the circuit as his ever-growing case of cabin fever intensifies.

Magill said he took up speed skiing to compensate for another injury. He used to gelande ski jump, but had to scale back the pressure on his knees and spine after crushing several vertebrae in 2000.

That injury kept him off the mountain for an entire season but helped ignite his passion for speed skiing.

He hasn't exactly found the same positive energy while waiting out his collarbone. He begged his doctor and was permitted to take a short skate-ski excursion Thursday, but otherwise has been relegated to regular old shoes.

He said he's taken up arts and crafts in his free time, sculpting to keep his mind off the snow. It's proven only marginally helpful.

"It's killing me," he said with a laugh. "It's just that we got so much snow and we're just now getting into spring skiing. There's a good month or two months of skiing left. I might be able to get back for the very last of it."

No matter what he manages to squeeze in, he's not likely to forget the thrill of flying down the Alps.

"I'm looking forward to next year," the 49-year-old said. "One of my goals is to get to 150 (miles per hour.) I'm so close. I want to go 150 before I turn 50."

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