Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs fixture Tim Magill has very much grown up on the ski jumps at Howelsen Hill, and while this weekend marked the 100th Winter Carnival, it marked the 50th year of jumping for the irrepressible Magill.
He’s never had a leap quiet like the one he broke off Sunday, however. Magill has been competing in Alpine ski jumping — gelande jumping — since he was 14 and and jumping in general since he was 4, a young Steamboat doing what young Steamboat residents do. On Sunday in the Pro Alpine Ski Flying, he soared to 99 meters or 324 feet, the best jump of his 50 years.
“What helps was growing up on skis,” he said. “It’s like walking. Do you remember when you started to walk? No. You just did it. That’s the way skiing is for me. Skiing Howelsen is what helped.”
Magill finished third in the annual event, which helped wrap up the Winter Carnival. Every year, locals and tourists alike hike from downtown’s Diamond Hitch parade and street events to Howelsen Hill, where a motley crew of competitors — ex-Nordic ski jumpers, Alpine ski racers and those simply wild at heart — launch from the jumps to the cheers of several hundred onlookers.
The field was without Rolf Wilson, who’s won the event nine times in the last decade, so former Nordic ski jumper John Hanson paced the field. He laid down four of the day’s best five jumps. The winners were determined by combining the best of the first two jumps with the best of the second two. Considering his dominance, Hanson won with ease. His best jump was 107 meters and his combined total was 213.5. That set him ahead of second-place jumper Marsh Gooding, of Steamboat, at 200.5. The 50-year jumping maniac, Magill, was third, at 196.5.
Cory McConnell was fourth, organizer Pat Arnone was fifth, Lynn Wenzel was sixth, Mike Fairbrother was seventh, Rob Davis was eighth, Darin Gamba was ninth, Bruce Stott was 10th and Andy Atha was 11th.
Magill said the key was in relaxing. He hit his best jump on his second go, missing it badly on his third before coming close again, at 97.5 meters, on his final try.
“The third one I was gunning, but that’s not how you do it,” he said. “You go off and you let the breeze lift you. When I try jumping hard, you don’t get into the air cleanly. It’s more about finesse, getting into the air cleanly. When I jump really hard, I start getting torn apart by the air.”
It was the event’s 27th year in the carnival.
“What a great event,” Arnone said. “I think about how 100 years ago those guys said, ‘Let’s just have fun. Winter is so long and hard. Let’s have fun.’ I hope we can keep this going for another 100 years.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com