When his son, Tucker, was nine years old, the pair stumbled across a pair of children's telemark ski boots at a ski swap. The elder Vollbrecht figured it was worth a shot.
Tucker had always wanted to give telemark skiing -- also known as free-heel skiing -- a try. He had grown up as an alpine skier, watching dad shred on the hills and in the backcountry on tele skis.
"He begged me to teach him how to tele-ski," Tom said. "It was kind of crazy. I was like, 'Dude, you're not big enough, you're not strong enough.'"
"For a few years," Tucker added, "I just kept asking him and wanting to start and see how it was. I haven't skied normally since then."
Now, Tucker, who will be a junior at Park City High School this fall, has the opportunity of a lifetime in front of him. After finishing sixth at his first tele competition at Grand Targhee in Alta, Wyo., Tucker Vollbrecht was invited to a prestigious telemark ski camp in Portillo, Chile, with one of his heroes. Nick DeVore, who is considered one of the top tele skiers in the world, extended the invitation and Tucker took it.
"I don't know when it happened exactly, but this season he definitely eclipsed my ability," Tom Vollbrecht said. "He's taking it to new places. It's fun to watch."
Tucker first touched base with DeVore a few years ago when he stumbled across his website. He asked his dad if he should e-mail DeVore and other top telemark skiers across the country to ask for tips and establish a relationship early on.
DeVore responded and the two became friends.
"It would be like if you were an alpine racer and you were 11 or 12 years old and decided to start shooting e-mails to Bode Miller," the elder Vollbrecht said. "Nick wins alpine freeskiing competition on tele-gear. He's just a savant. They have this really cool relationship."
At the competition in Wyoming, Tucker met Kayo Ogilby and Paul Kimbrough, two of the sport's most popular racers, and forged friendships in his first competitive outing.
Two weeks ago, the invitation to go to Chile arrived along with a scholarship for the camp and his travels. But in order to make the trek to the southern hemisphere, he still needs a little help. He is fundraising for his trip to Portillo on a crowd-funding site at www.indiegogo.com/portillotelemark .
"It'll just be cool to ski somewhere remote," Tucker said. "I've just wanted to go for a while now."
A junior ski instructor and junior ski patroller at Park City Mountain Resort last winter, Tucker Vollbrecht is looking to make that next big move in his young ski career.
And dad, who's been there since day one, concurs.
"I think life is short," Tom Vollbrecht said. "You have to pursue the stuff you love and go after it as hard as you can."
For more information on Tucker Vollbrecht, visit www.tuckervollbrecht.com .