Sponsored by Oregon Business

Windells sports academy flourishes

| Print |  Email
Articles - September 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Tim Windell at Mount Hood
// Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer
By Ben Jacklet

It’s 7 a.m. at the “funnest place on earth,” and buses and vans are loading up with kids raring to shred up some mid-summer snow on Mount Hood. A pair of teenage girls wearing snowboard boots are playing tetherball with one hand while holding lunch bags with the other. A pre-teen on a skateboard zips past the “Super Awesome Game Lounge” and tries out a few tricks in the wavy skate park out back. A tall boy jumps up and deposits a short girl’s snowboard on top of the basketball rim and ambles off. When she returns she looks up and laughs. “How’m I supposed to get that down?”

Tim Windell, the 46-year-old former snowboarding champion who built this action sports wonderland out of a trashed motel he bought out of bankruptcy, takes in the scene with a grin. For the third summer in a row, his $1,949-per-week overnight camp is sold out, and his new year-round academy is drawing inquiries from Saudi Arabia to Iceland. Not only did Windells Camp survive the recession, it flourished. Recent purchases include two $56,000 ski lifts and four huge air bags to provide safe landings for outrageous aerial maneuvers.

Windell is quick to point out that his competitors started buying air bags after word got out that he’d bought some. “We lead the way in the industry,” he says.

It’s a short, gorgeous drive from the Windells base camp on Highway 26 to Timberline Lodge. Windells operates a private snow park with an intimidating variety of jumps, half-pipes and rails in a south-facing gully east of the main ski area. To get there you have to ski: not exactly a sacrifice, since there is arguably no better place in the nation to ski in summer than Mount Hood.

Windell has gained weight since his days as champion, but he still rides with easy grace. His newest interest is snow skating. As a youth he tried moguls and backcountry telemarking, and then embraced snowboarding when critics were dismissing it as child’s play. He remembers being hassled by ski patrollers for no apparent reason. “They just didn’t like the fact that we were shredding the powder better than they were,” he says. “Way better.”

After a smooth warm-up run at eye-watering speed, Windell kicks back on the lift and shares a few details from his boarding career. The reason he was able to win consistently on tour was simple, he says. While his competitors treated boarding as an excuse to get hammered in Japan and party all night in Europe, he was focused on winning. He limited his extracurricular activities and trained hard in the summer to get an edge once the season began.

He applies the same ethic to his business. “You have to continually move forward and keep it fresh versus sitting there and being stagnant,” he says. “Since the conception of Windells we’ve always tried to put at least 15% to 20% back into the business, year after year… It has paid off.”


More Articles

Mayoral musings

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
091515-mayors-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capturing leads in the polls and the headlines. In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend.


After the Orange Line

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
090815-trimet-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Alan Lehto, TriMet's director of policy & planning, shares a few thoughts on ride sharing and more nimble bus services.


Baby. Boom!

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A new co-working model disrupts office sharing, child care and work-life balance as we know it.


Run, Nick, Run

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Controversial track star Nick Symmonds is leveraging his celebrity to grow a performance chewing-gum brand. Fans hail his marketing ploys as genius. Critics dub them shameless.


Summer of acquisition

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


Up on the Roof

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In 2010 Vanessa Keitges and several investors purchased Portland-based Columbia Green Technologies, a green-roof company. The 13-person firm has a 200% annual growth rate, exports 30% of its product to Canada and received its first infusion of venture capital in 2014 from Yaletown Venture Partners. CEO Keitges, 40, a Southern Oregon native who serves on President Obama’s Export Council, talks about market innovation, scaling small business and why Oregon is falling behind in green-roof construction. 


Light Reading

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ask any college student: Textbook prices have skyrocketed out of control. Online education startup Lumen Learning aims to bring them down to earth.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02