Skagway Park Ranger Tim Steidel stands at infamous Mountain Post #9 overlooking the Soldier Hollow Nordic Ski Venue near Heber City, Utah on Feb. 22 as part of the security for the 19th Winter Olympic Games. Photo courtesy of Tim Steidel

Steidel among elite rangers in the state
Skagway represented at Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City

By STAN BUSH
Park Ranger is usually a thankless job with little recognition. However, this is not the case for local ranger Tim Steidel.
Steidel, who has already been awarded as one of the best rangers in the state by the National Park Service, was given what he calls a once-in-a-lifetime experience this past month. Steidel applied to become one of the 100 rangers chosen nationwide to provide extra law enforcement at this year’s Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. As luck would have it, he was one of the elite chosen to provide the extra security.
As the American team went on to shatter the previous medal count of 15, Steidel, perched above the Soldier Hollow Nordic Venue, almost missed the entire Olympics. His mountain lookout – well away from the nearest competition, cross-country skiing – was visible only by binoculars and far enough away that even the loudest announcers were inaudible.
“I didn’t get to see much,” Steidel said. “I probably wouldn’t have seen very much if I didn’t watch TV during my breaks.”
Although he didn’t see much, the opportunity did show up, albeit infrequently.
“Every night the Secret Service held a lottery for tickets to events,” said Steidel. “I won tickets to a hockey game but it was two hours away in Salt Lake City so the timing would have been impossible.”
He was not the only Alaskan providing extra law enforcement at the games though. Five others were selected, all of whom were assigned to the Solider Hollow venue.
“Our entire Alaska contingent was stationed at Soldier Hollow,” Steidel said. “They were looking for people with a lot of mountaineering and outdoor experience. I guess they thought we could stand the cold.”
Steidel didn’t have any real problems and was glad that everything ran well. He did however mention that the one problem they had was with the Russian media misusing credentials and badgering athletes.
While standing in the cold and corralling the Russian paparazzi may be as fun as it sounds, Steidel said that what he really enjoyed was being involved in the “Olympic Experience” in Park City.
“It was great to be part of what was happening in Park City,” said Steidel. “One thing I didn’t know was how big pin trading was down there. I got my wife to send down a bunch of Alaska pins and was able to trade for about anything I wanted.”
And as the flame was extinguished and the fanfare ended, Steidel left with something all the gold medalists always brag about, the experience of a lifetime.