Baltimore transplant says he’s here to stay
Kris Altenburger went all in at the July 4th parade. Clownishly clad and wearing a Halloween wig, he danced and gyrated ahead of the Skullcandy "GNAR Van," a jacked-up 4WD van, for the entire parade route. (GNAR is short for "gnarly.") Later, in the park, he cracked a beer, declared mission accomplished, and admitted he was "a little tired."
The 30-year-old East Coast transplant has called Park City home since 2009, when he moved here for a job with Skullcandy. He says the annual parade was the perfect venue for his company. "We’re all young and fired up! I wanted to get the crowd fired up too." That he did.
A Baltimore, Maryland, native, Altenburger never considered living in the West until a job brought him here. Growing up, vacations meant long, leisurely summers at a beloved family cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He attended Calvert Hall College High School, a boys’ prep school, where he ran on the state champion cross-country team.
A departure from the family’s summer routine in 1996 brought the Altenburgers to Utah. They flew into Salt Lake City, rented a car and drove up through Jackson Hole and Yellowstone. At age 15, the scenery was wasted on Altenburger. "I missed my girlfriend (his first) and I have to confess I really didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have."
Altenburger attended West Virginia University in Morgantown, where he was the "social chairperson" for his fraternity, Kappa Alpha. "That meant I planned the parties and bought the booze," he says. "There were a lot of ups and downs in college, even some face-downs," he grins. He survived to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology in 2004.
After a backpacking jaunt through Europe to celebrate graduation, Altenburger came home to ponder his future. "I had to make some tough decisions," he recalls. "I’d hoped to go on and get a master’s at least, but I was on my own and I just couldn’t handle the idea of paying back big student loans for years. So, I went to work."
He remembers his interview with Under Armour in 2005. "I showed up sweating in a suit and tie and the guy interviewing me rolled up in a golf cart wearing shorts, a T-shirt and sandals. I got the job and he told me to show up the following Monday in shorts. Pretty cool."
Under Armour was the perfect fit for Altenburger. He rose steadily through the ranks and, by 2008, was the Mountain Division sales coordinator. But, when he realized he could advance no farther there, he went looking for new opportunities.
A job interview with Skullcandy prompted Altenburger’s second visit to Utah. This time he noticed the scenery. "My first impressions of Park City were well wow! It was June and one of the first things I noticed was all the people out running and bicycling. The place had a real small-town vibe. And a ski town besides! A lot different from where I came from."
Altenburger, a rabid downhiller, had skied mostly on icy East Coast slopes and in California. The chance to live and work in a high-mountain ski town with great snow was irresistible.
Altenburger jumped at Skullcandy’s offer. "Everybody there was very friendly and nice. It’s a young, fun company with a great atmosphere, really electric, and it’s growing quickly. I like being a part of that. Plus, the hours are good and I still get to wear shorts and sandals." Today he serves as the international business development manager for the Asia-Pacific region.
Far from Baltimore, Altenburger says he’s found home. "We live in a gorgeous part of the country. Wildlife is everywhere, there’s virtually no traffic and plenty of fresh air. We have great schools and facilities, like the Basin Recreation Center, and it’s now the number one mountain-biking destination in the world. Just a great quality of life.
"I’m passionate about life; it’s a gift and we only get one shot at it. I say enjoy it to the fullest and be thankful."
Altenburger lives in Pinebrook with his partner, Lia. "She’s just great and a very nice person," he gushes. "She has her own interior design business and works hard. She’s living her dream and I am too. I’ve found the town that I want to grow old in Park City."
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Favorite things to do: backcountry skiing, mountain biking, running, hiking, camping
Favorite foods: Mexican, Italian, Japanese and "No Name" bison burgers
Favorite reading: nonfiction, historical
Favorite music: all kinds "allows one to be multi-cultural."
Animal companions: Max, an Australian kelpie, a rescue dog, "the best dog ever."
Bucket list: heli-skiing, foreign travel
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Park City leaders on Thursday will likely hold a special meeting to consider an idea crafted by Main Street businesses to close the street to traffic on Sundays in the summer and early fall in favor of a pedestrian zone.