HOMETOWN: South Burlington, VT | HOME BASE: Burlington, VT
Hi, I’m Ralph Kucharek; I am a Vermonter.
I was born in Burlington on August 14, 1992, where I still reside today. Vermont quickly taught me as a kid it's important to have outdoor hobbies and crucial to have one in the winter for preserving your sanity. Today, you can find me camping and fishing throughout the summer or on the mountain in the winter. When I was 3, my father introduced me to fishing. At 7, my grandmother gifted me a snowboard for Christmas. After my first lesson at Bolton Valley my life was changed forever.
My first snowboard videos were Subjekt Haakonsen and the Robot Foot trilogy. They inspired countless hours of emulation whether it was on my trampoline, the hill in my backyard, or at the mountain. Bolton Valley became my home mountain where I had a pass for eight seasons and grew up competing in their weekly event series, “Night Riders.” Darn Tough socks were the most sought after prizes of the series because of their durability and lifetime warranty. A few years later in 2010 I had graduated high school and decided to pursue moving west coast to become a snowboard bum.
Unlike my peers, I deferred from Champlain College and the University of British Columbia. In order to save up enough money to move to Lake Tahoe for a few months I worked at Talent Skatepark teaching skateboarding, working retail, and tuning snowboards. After three glorious months in California that season I ended up back in Vermont, determined to make it back west. In order to ride all winter I worked various jobs during the summer and fall including landscaping, being a dockmaster, and also a janitor for parks in the City of Burlington. At one point, I had to triple bag a deer carcass that had been thrown out in a public trashcan—all in the name of snowboarding.
When I was 19, Matt Jagemann of White Flag Sales gave me a chance and started flowing me Burton Snowboards. A few months later I became part of their late, great “Knowbuddy” team, which was a pivotal start in snowboarding. Unfortunately, after my first season on the team both of my Achilles tendons sustained injuries and I had to stop snowboarding for a year. Recovery gave me time to evaluate new goals and rekindle old hobbies. I became a student at the University of Vermont where I still take courses today and started fly fishing again. Fishing is now my guilty pleasure and I spend the majority of my free time from March to December chasing the abundance of species Lake Champlain and Vermont has to offer. I specialize in fishing for lake-run Rainbow Trout (Steelhead) in the spring and chasing Landlocked Atlantic Salmon in the fall.
I’ve learned over many years snowboarding a few important things. First, it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s about who you’re with; second, never forget why you started snowboarding; and third, Vermont is one of the most unique and special places in North America to ride and I am proud to call it home. Our state's history is deeply rooted in snowboarding and it's still evident today. Having the opportunity to work with Darn Tough, a Vermont-made company, and accompanying them into snowboarding is a dream come true.