Tim Borden with the 62-inch shell launched Feb. 9, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Derek Maiolo/Steamboat Pilot)

Chasing the firework record

For years, Steamboat Springs fireworks enthusiast Tim Borden and Yampa Valley Bank have been donating the fireworks for the town’s Winter Carnival held every year during the second weekend of February.

Tim has been chasing the record for the largest shell ever launched in the world. The successful launch of a 48-inch shell on Feb. 11, 2017, was recognized as the largest shell ever launched in the Western Hemisphere.

In early 2019, Tim and the Steamboat Fireworks team built a 62-inch shell that weighed in at 2,509 pounds. The current record is 2,397 pounds.

The Feb. 9, 2019, launch of the 62-inch shell was not successful. It exploded inside the mortar sending a fountain of sparks into the air.

Tim and his team believe the black-powder charge used to launch the shell into the air was too powerful.

For the Feb. 8, 2020, launch, the composition of the black-powder charge will be changed so it burns milliseconds slower. The shell’s thickness will be increased by three inches for a total of eight inches.

A representative from Guiness World Records will return to Steamboat to certify the record attempt during the 7 p.m. (Mountain Time) Night Extravaganza at Howelsen Hill. The fireworks show will be streamed on Facebook.

FAQs

— Click here for some fast facts about the 2019 62-inch shell and the record attempt.

— A full schedule of 2020 Winter Carnival events can be found here. To keep everyone safe and away from the fallout zone, all trails that access Emerald Mountain including Blackmer Trail will be closed from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Feb. 8 as crews set up and launch fireworks for the Night Extravaganza.

The Steamboat Fireworks team

Tim Borden, project manager and finance

Tim Borden brings to the Steamboat Fireworks team his passion for the pursuit of the improbable. His entire life, in both the professional and personal sense, he has set goals that were always well beyond expectations and sometimes even nearly outlandish.

He took transcontinental motorcycle trips across strange and often forbidding territories, participated in USA Bobsled competition in three different countries, and served as minority owner of the Denver Broncos National Football League team. With a license as a fireworks importer, he now sets his sights on creating (and successfully launching) the largest firework in the centuries-old history of fireworks.

Born in 1947 and raised in Darien, Connecticut, he has lived and worked in Steamboat for most of his adult life. He received his bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Colorado and his law degree from the University of Denver. He has spent more than 20 years in various capacities of the fireworks industry, all as a volunteer; and he holds a permit in federal explosives storage and a Colorado Display Operator’s license. He is also an avid hunter, hiker and bicyclist, and he previously held a private pilot’s license.

His motorcycle treks during 1992-2013 included tours of northern Africa (Libya to the Atlantic Ocean), Australia (13,500 miles over two months on a dual sport motorcycle), New Zealand (7,500 miles), and a straight shot from Steamboat to Panama.

His bobsled competition took him to Canada, Switzerland and Austria, and at one point gave him thoughts of possible participation in the Olympics. His four seasons with the Denver Broncos (1984-87) allowed him to share in the success of two AFC Conference Championships with subsequent trips to the Super Bowl.

He makes his living as chairman of multiple banks in Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota. He is currently chairman and managing director of A F Europe — the former owner of the Gienanth GmbH Foundries in Eisenberg and Schwandorf, Germany. Those foundries at the time were the world’s largest producers of mid-sized engine blocks (2-9 tons) and producer of parts throughout the automobile industry.

Tim is married with two adult children and six grandchildren.

Ed MacArthur, logistics

Ed MacArthur is in charge of logistics on the Steamboat Fireworks team. He owns and operates Steamboat Springs-based civil construction company Native Excavating Inc., in operation since 1981. The company has more than 70 pieces of heavy equipment with 45 year-round employees, and it completes an average of 120 projects per year. Among the company’s services: road-building, sewer, water,
foundation work and even snow plowing. His oldest son, Charlie, serves as president of the company.

Ed has lived in Steamboat since 1979. He was a founding member of Yampa Valley Bank, and he is currently the chair of the bank’s board of directors. He has been a board member for more than 20 years.

He serves on the board of directors of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Foundation and the Discovery Learning Center; and his company has been involved in the construction of Steamboat’s Alpine Slide, Winter Sports Club weight room, water ramps and the Nordic jump facility at Howelsen Hill.

He and his wife, June, have been married since 1982 and they have two sons and four grandchildren. He is a passionate skier (snow and water), and he travels to Canada every year for heli-skiing. He likes to travel and enjoys scuba diving. Ed is a graduate of Colorado State University.

Eric Krug, engineering and mortar design

One of the nation’s premier fireworks specialists, 56-year-old Eric Krug is a sun-up to sun-down engineer, with just a little time for his music and skateboarding.
Originally from Wichita, Kansas (he received his engineering degree from Kansas State University), he lives in Loveland, Colorado, and he has traveled internationally in pursuit of the most awe-inspiring pyrotechnics.

He began working as a professional pyrotechnician in 1981, and one of the highlights of his career was a first-place finish in the 1987 International Fireworks Competition in Montreal. His team also finished third in that competition in 1988.

Fireworks are a family affair in the Krug household. He has trained his wife, adult children and their spouses to help on the pyrotechnic teams performing in the annual Independence Day Stadium of Fire celebration in Provo, Utah. He has custom-designed some of the equipment and electronic controls for that show. When he is not creating shows, he is working in his spare time to create improvements to the ways those shows function, with various new designs and products. He has written operating manuals and training manuals, and he is on the board of directors of his local fireworks company.

For the Steamboat Fireworks team, he has helped with the construction of the shells, with focus on the deign of the mortars and other special equipment not readily available for fireworks of such extreme size. He first attended the Winter Carnival in Steamboat in 1986 and was impressed by the fireworks display. His dream was one day to contribute something big to the show.

As a professional product design engineer, he has created medical equipment, fire-and-rescue equipment, police equipment, water purification systems and therapy devices. He has designed and constructed components for satellites currently in orbit.

For distraction, he plays various musical instruments, including drums, violin and bagpipes; and he likes to escape on his skateboard. At age 54, he coasted 190 feet on a skateboard while performing a handstand. No wonder he is ready to turn the fireworks world upside down with the biggest blast in history.

Jim Widmann, shell construction
Jim Widmann watches as the machine he designed is used to create a shell. (Photo courtesy of Matt Stensland/Steamboat Pilot)