Paul Bragiel, the
batshit crazy awesome VC who has been training for months in the Arctic Circle to compete in the Sochi Winter Olympics, has a side charity project up his sleeve.
After seeing dozens of other younger Olympic contenders struggle to raise funds for training, he felt he needed to do something to help out. Some friends over at Belarusian and Lithuanian gaming studio On5 offered their talents pro bono to develop a game called Team Paul Skiing.
It’s a beautiful, little side-scroller that takes a player through Bragiel’s training as he skis in Finland, which is where he’s done the bulk of his preparation. Then it shifts to Colombia, the country that gave Bragiel citizenship to compete on behalf of its Olympic team. And finally it ends in Sochi, Russia, where the Olympics will be held next year.
They set a low goal of raising $10,000 in the next seven days, and half of the proceeds will go toward different youth sports foundations in Finland and Colombia while the other half will go toward game development. But they hope to raise somewhere between $25,000 and $30,000.
Bragiel, who started i/o Ventures out of San Francisco, decided earlier this year to realize his lifelong dream of competing in the Olympics.
But there were many hurdles. For one, he didn’t have a sport. Then, he was also pretty old for an Olympic hopeful at 36 years of age.
But he’s hacked his way so far. After considering everything from curling to the luge, he settled on classical cross country skiing, which is a more traditional Winter Olympic sport that has more lenient rules around qualifications.
Then he secured citizenship in a warm, tropical country that is less competitive for winter sports — Colombia.
Now he’s in the middle of qualifying races. To make it to the Olympics, he must be able to finish five qualifying races where he’s not more than 10 minutes behind the world’s top cross-country skiier — no hard feat. He’s competed in his first qualifying race already, which was a miss. But he’s definitely not deterred. There are plenty more to come.