Summit County dad works to empower youth through snowboarding
February 11, 2017
A car ride from Denver to Copper Mountain Resort was the doorway for Paul Krahulec and his family into the world of snowboarding.
Both his son, Tyler, and daughter, Kim, had planned on participating in a snowboarding competition, but once the family got in the car his daughter felt differently.
"We drove up, and Tyler was all excited, Kim kind of cried the entire way, 'I don't want to compete,'" Krahulec said. "It was a big deal."
Once they got to the slopes and his son put on his competing bib though, Kim changed her mind. The decision would lead to getting a medal in the competition. Her brother was not so lucky, reversing their roles on the car ride home.
"All the way home I had the backseat crying, and the front seat was proud of the medal," he said. "So I had controversy in the family, and that's how we got started."
Krahulec, who is now the director of operations at the United States of America Snowboard and Free Ski Association, has always been a family man. In the late '80s, the Canadian-born Krahulec found himself in California, a divorced parent with full custody of his two children. His son and daughter are 18 months apart.
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"I was a single dad with a diaper bag," he said.
Krahulec had been working with an engineering firm in California, buying bandwidth at the birth of the internet to ensure that the staff could better communicate to get their jobs done. This perked up the interest of MCI Inc. He later accepted a job with the company and moved to the Centennial State in 1986.
"I didn't know much about the internet then," he said. "But they called me and said 'Hey, we're building this thing out, called the internet. Are you interested?'"
He lived in Denver for several years working with different companies — until his children became interested in snowboarding. After his kids began working more and more with Team Summit, Krahulec found himself driving more. The family moved to Summit County in 2008.
"My kids got into snowboarding, I became a volunteer," he said.
His children were members of Team Summit, an organization that helps youths succeed through sports. At the time, the team only competed at Copper, but hard times fell on the organization, and after the Team Summit organizer was killed in a hunting accident, parents weren't sure how to organize for competition season.
Krahulec volunteered to be the point of contact between the organization and the parents, helping to get Team Summit back on its feet and out to competitions. He was later voted in by the Team Summit board as the series director.
Krahulec moved his way up through the ranks over the years before making his way to the USASA. He helped to expand the Rocky Mountain series from Copper Mountain to several of the Vail Resort properties such as Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort.
"I sort of came up through the ranks of all the volunteer positions and some of the more coveted paid positions," he said.
His primary focus now is helping kids in competitions. He has helped to underwrite fees for some of the competitions for youths, enabling them to pursue the sports they love. The organization is about more than just getting kids to ride powder, it's about empowering them to learn skills that will follow them into adulthood.
While living in Canada, Krahulec played minor league hockey for several years. He always respected the adults who took time out of their lives to not only coach hockey, but to mentor kids. His career now is about paying it forward, an homage to the hockey coaches of his youth.
"What's important to me is that I'm paying back the old guys that gave me my opportunity," he said. "It's not really just about snowboarding or free skiing to get to the pinnacle and go to the Olympics. That's some kids' goals, other kids just love to be involved in something that's predictable and that is fulfilling for them and whatever their personal needs are."
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