Wally Magill and Cristina Vinicinelli | SteamboatToday.com

Wally Magill and Cristina Vinicinelli

Twice in a lifetime

Doug Crowl

— In 1999, Wally Magill wanted Cristina Vicinelli, his future fiance and former high school sweetheart, to be happy.

To Wally, life is about living, and a big-time job shouldn’t get in the way of that. And where is there a more perfect place to live life than in Steamboat Springs?

“Colorado is like a hit of oxygen,” Wally said.

That’s what Cristina needed a breath of fresh air, Wally said.

In 1992, Cristina graduated from Colgate University in art history and received her dream job right out of college in New York, working for Sotheby’s auction house. She was the vice president of Latin American art.

“That was the exact job I wanted,” Cristina said.

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But after a few years, life in the city wasn’t completely satisfying.

“Work was great; I loved what I did,” she said. “But I just wasn’t happy.”

Vowing to make a change, Cristina quit her job, even though she didn’t have a real plan of what she would do next. One thing was for certain though, she was going to make the wedding of her childhood best friend, Kathy Petrone, in New Jersey, the week after she quit her job.

Kathy also is Wally’s cousin, and Wally was going to the wedding.

“I know Wally,” Kathy said. “He wasn’t going to go to the wedding with a guest if he new Cristina was one of my bridesmaids.”

Let’s just say he and Cristina have some history for connecting through cousin Kathy a long history.

When the two went to the wedding, both without dates, the sparks flew. It eventually led to her moving to Colorado and Wally proposing July 2.

“My heart just fluttered,” Wally said jokingly, remembering seeing Cristina at the rehearsal dinner.

That was the second time the couple fell in love and the second time Cristina realized Wally was the man for her.

The first time was at a pool party at cousin Kathy’s house, in New Jersey, 15 years earlier.

Cristina and Wally were both 15 years old when she spotted him from across the pool.

“Cristina laid eyes on him and said, ‘Oh my gosh. I want to get to know that guy,'” Kathy said.

Wally was the new guy; he and his family recently moved to Chatham, N.J., from a suburb of Boston, Mass. Kathy, who lived in Chatham, invited him over to get to know some people.

Cristina liked Wally’s smile, and to get his attention, she did what any 15-year-old might do she showed off.

More specifically, Cristina put on a diving expedition in the pool in hopes to impress to the new kid in town.

“I don’t think he paid too much attention,” Cristina said.

So showing off didn’t work, but that wouldn’t be the last time the two met, and leave it to Kathy to come into play.

That school year, Cristina and Kathy became close friends and Wally caught wind through his cousin that a pretty girl from Summit was interested in him.

“She was always looking for excuses to go over to his house,” Kathy said. “So she would go on little errands with me over to Wally’s.”

In December, Cristina and Wally found themselves at a Christmas party.

“He gave me a kiss that night,” Cristina said.

A couple of months later, it was official they were high school sweethearts.

Including prom and homecoming dances, the couple stayed together all the way through high school.

But that was high school, and like most relationships in the teen-age years, the prospect of fun and new people in college can be a stress.

After the class of ’88 graduated, Cristina went off to Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., while Wally left the East to go west, to the University of Colorado in Boulder, starting his love affair with the Centennial State.

For Cristina, the stress of college hit quickly, and she broke up with Wally two weeks into the school session.

“We were just young and I thought our lives would be really different,” she said.

Though their lives were really different, it wasn’t the end. The couple still kept in touch.

“He would send me great presents,” Cristina remembered. “My friends called him Patagonia man.”

Wally also made a habit of calling Cristina from some of the 60-odd Grateful Dead shows that he attended while in college.

In 1994, Wally graduated from CU with an engineering degree.

After working a few jobs on the Front Range, he moved to Steamboat Springs in 1997, accepting a job as a project manager for Johnson Kunkel and Associates.

“Then I decided to get this girl who worked too much to come up here and have some fun,” Wally said.

At Kathy’s rehearsal dinner, for the second time, Wally kissed Cristina for the first time.

Two weeks later, Wally convinced Cristina to visit him in Steamboat Springs, vowing to show her some fun Colorado style, that is.

It was Labor Day weekend 1999, and Wally did show her a good time.

The couple ran the Rabbit Ear 10K and went sailing at Stagecoach. Wally took Cristina mountain biking for the first time in her life and they topped it all off with a trip to the hot springs at Strawberry Park.

After that, Wally visited Cristina twice in the East and finally talked her into moving to Steamboat Springs.

On Feb. 23, 2000, Cristina arrived in Steamboat. She got a job in the marketing department at the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

Five months later, Wally proposed to Cristina while the couple was visiting New York City.

“Wally wanted to get married the next day,” exclaimed Cristina. “But planning a wedding could take a year.”

On July 14, the couple that had two tries will tie the knot in Vermont.

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