How many times have we thought this exact thing? With lifestyles that revolve around a sport that many parents find ‘dangerous’, it is easy to write them off as not understanding. As today is Father’s Day, we explore the man behind an infamous green name to find a parent who totally understands.
Rob Larick is a name that may not ring a bell to you, but he is your friend, consultant, and e-parent. Self-proclaimed as “46 years young,” papasteeze is a familiar member to the NS family.
Growing up riding at Shawnee Mountain in Pennsylvania, Rob began the path towards a life-long fascination with skiing. Although some years have passed, Rob still spends his winters riding in the PA, except now you can find him at Big Boulder. Noting how he was raised on the East Coast and continues to ride there still, he admits that he truly learned to ski as a teen during his family’s weeklong vacations out west. “My parents didn’t trust me to stay home alone with my older sisters, so I had to go. I wanted to be a cool kid so I got the tight pants and the flashy sweaters and the sunglasses with a headband,” Rob remembers of his family vacations and past fashion statements. He recalls his first pair of skis while thinking back on his set up. Even though he can’t remember the exact models on account of being “too old,” papasteeze questioningly believes, “they were straight and gray or grayish green and had like 3 stripes at the tip of orange and blue?”
It obvious that a lot has changed since Rob first stepped onto the hill, and he will be the first to tell you that. Most kids on this site have only been able to see the changes that have occurred in this sport during the last five or ten years, but Rob has been able to witness much more than that. “I think I was 12 or 13 during the mid-seventies,” he says, looking back almost thirty years and mentioning, “Alta lift tickets [were] at $10.”
Many of you probably just stopped, and if you didn’t, it’s okay. Take a minute and look at that. Grab a drink, take a piss, let it simmer, whatever you need to do.
Yes indeed, papasteeze got to grow up in a time period not in which there were dinosaurs (c’mon guys, give him a little credit- though that would be really cool), but in an age in which you could ride Alta for a single small bill. Price changes are on the top of Rob’s list of what he’s unhappy with over the years. “I understand that running a resort is expensive, it’s just too expensive,” says a frustrated ‘steeze. Reiterating the ten dollar deal at Alta, he continues, “now they are $80.” Even with his tongue-in-cheek humor, we all know how painfully true his words are. He kids around further to prove his point. “$0.65 per gallon of gas then, does not equal $5.00 per gallon……oh wait!”
And it isn’t just the money that has papasteeze’s snow pants in a bunch. As many people know on this site, Rob is the proud parent of Nipples (Steven), but also of another son, Ridge. Nips brother, “Ridge is the one that really got me fired up and excited about skiing again,” says Rob about his son. Unlike his brother, “in some ways, he showed more a natural talent/feel for skiing through his racing. He beat me on a NASTAR course at 8 years old. We would go to various NASTAR courses and soon he had the lowest handicap in his age group.”
Ridge's impressive NASTAR stats.
After showing such raw instincts in the racing field, Rob and Ridge were able to experience various levels of the racing lifestyle. “I took him to the Nationals in Park City and damn if he didn’t win second! The following year I put him on a USSA ski team,” Rob spurts out rhythmically, mimicking the fast-pace and demanding schedule of a racer. He breaks his chant for a moment to reveal an unexpected twist; “the following year after that he quit.”
How could such a young and talented athlete drop out of the race? Easy. “He said that it wasn’t fun,” says an unashamed Rob. It’s simple to see that the number one goal is to have fun when it comes to the Larick boys and their skiing, which is where papa’s second grudge seems to stem from. “Resort ski teams need to learn how to keep the fun in our short seasons. Drills and regimen are for the academy kids or the very serious racers.” When it came to Ridge, “he just wanted to go fast, but all they wanted him to do was stupid drills.”
Looking at these two characteristics, it’s obvious how times have changes and (in some places) the fun is being drained from the sport, and it doesn’t end after you click out of your bindings. “The whole après ski thing seemed more jovial then than it does now in the lodges,” says papasteeze when questioned about aspects of the sport he’d like to bring back. “I guess that has a lot to do with why I can be found frequently hanging around park kids. They know how to have fun on and off the slopes.”
While Rob is just a big kid, it sounds like his years have left him unsatisfied with the current ski scene, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, he’s currently happy with the direction skiing is headed in. “With some exceptions like RCR – others like Peak Resorts knows what is up. I see more and more clustered resorts here in the East finding their niche markets,” says Rob about resorts being more in-tune to the park. “Back in the day, [a] pass [was] pulled for the silliest little jump. Now you can huck yourself 40’ onto steel rails if you wish,” ‘steeze says, proving that the topic of park is becoming more and more prominent. He continues by saying, “increased twin tip sales while others are leveling off is a great indicator of where skiing is going.”
The freestyle movement is something that has been admired by the younger groups for awhile, but it is catching on with others as well. Because of his years skiing as a kid and his ability to bring his family up in the same lifestyle, papasteeze clearly proves that adults can be newschoolers too. Although he admits that he isn’t a complete park-rat, he can be found in there with his kids. “It depends on where we are at,” says Rob about where you can find him on an average day. “I do film a lot, about 20 hours of footage from this year and the last couple.” It’s not every parent who has the philosophy, “if it isn’t on film, it didn’t happen (referring to new tricks landed).” He admits, “I film a lot trying to capture the claim.” Other than that, Rob says you can find him around various venues of the mountain. ”I like hanging with resort management talking shop. I spend a fair amount of time at comps hanging with other parents. It just depends. 10 years ago I insisted on being first on and catching the last lift, not anymore. I’ve gotten lazy as I have gotten older.”
It’s easy to see how Rob could be tired after thirty years of riding, but guys like The Hammer seem to cut him no slack, once saying something about your body never being too old to ski. Rob wholeheartedly agrees with this, and actually has witnessed it first-hand. “My father was skiing up to 80 years old – last winter was his last, mostly because no one wanted to wait for him anymore. Kind of sad. I don’t think he knows he didn’t ski last season, so it’s ok. I intend on skiing for as long as I can. I want go now! It’s freakin’ 97 degrees out!” The heat may be motivating papasteeze to ski, but there’s more than just the weather pushing him.
“I am not embarrassed to say that I ski vicariously through my kids,” says Rob about his boys keeping him on the hill every year. But he goes on to extend his motivation to another thing; Newschoolers. “NS really keeps me thinking young by simple association. I am happy to spend time explaining NS to older sets – racing people and anyone that will listen.”
While Rob appreciates NS keeping him young, other members appreciate his presence as well. “[He’s the] most helpful mod I have dealt with,” says ilovesnwbrdmilf under papasteeze’s feedback section. Rob says he loves the position of moderator, and uses it to “do a lot of housekeeping, like moving threads around, [and] deleting really ignorant threads and posts.” Yet that isn’t all that he does while logged on. “I’d like to think I help offer viewpoints from a very different perspective. I like being helpful to those that have questions. I lurked here for years before signing on and remember what it was like being a noob.”
It’s obvious that being a noob is a thing of the past for Rob, as now he is a regular on the site, with quite the friend list to prove it. “OMGZZZZZZ!!! Hahaha... I have met so many people and had so many laughs and learned so much,” Rob says with a chuckle. While he is unsure as to how many members he’s met, he tries to make note of them by adding them to his friends list, while also adding people he hopes to meet. Being able to interact with so many NSers, he sometimes forgets who he’s come in contact with. “Oh crap, I met you at IF3 last year. OK, you’re on the list now. I like seeing how often some log in but never post. You know who you are!” Although there seems to be a lot of haters on NS, Rob says, “Generally everyone I have met has been nice, supportive and fun people to be around. Even those who have had not the best reps on here turn out to be quite different in person. It’s as if, posting gives them an alter-ego.”
Outside of the world of threads and post count, we find Rob Larick scrawled across a business card identifying him as “Project Manager” of a “residential custom home builder.” While his job is important to the welfare of his family, he admits that he’ll ditch it for a good powder day. “I get threatened every year to be fired for missed time off. I get 3 weeks vacation per year, [and] work lots of Saturdays during the summer.” His job could lead him to even more skiing if everything works out accordingly. “I have my fingers crossed on a job offer. I have made the commitment to take the job building homes if the contract goes through,” says Rob with excitement. Where would his new position take him to? “Revelstoke! I am so stoked for Revy. 6000’ of vert and 500” per year.”
While being a skier and project manager, Rob’s most important position is that of Dad. Many kids come on the site and start threads that complain about a parent being unsupportive of skiing, or somehow hindering their quest for powder. Riding both sides of the fence, Rob says, “Doesn’t every parent want to see their kid successful? How can you be successful if all you do is wear silly clothes, sleep late, post on NS, talk in funny slang and huck yourself through the air over ice? It’s simple as that.” But being a true skier, Rob poses some advice to the parents. “If your kid is passionate about skiing, then let them follow their own instincts and/or dreams. They will figure things out as they get older. There are so many far worse things that they could be into.”
Some might say Rob’s a wise man, while others may think he’s expired, but don’t take him off the shelf just yet. A man with a good heart and good intentions, papasteeze’s role on Newschoolers is accepted and valued. Recognizing that he has some years on most of the members, Rob has some advice looking back. “I used to think to not do the things you like as a job, you’ll end up hating it. It’s a double edged sword. I do like building stuff, I just don’t do it for myself anymore. I love skiing, but I am not sure if I ski for me anymore. I do it for others. Not sure if I am offering any insight here, because building stuff has allowed me to earn a decent income and skiing has allowed my sons to do something they love.”
As seasons pass and we all grow older, we all hope to be able to balance work, our family, and the things we love. Though it seems not everyone can do it, Rob’s formula seems to be working out pretty well. While Will Smith says, “parents are the same,” when it comes to Mr. Larick, you’d have to beg to differ. How many parents have an alter-ego named papasteeze, let alone know what steeze is?
"This pic is from the early 90's--notice the rear entires! Those are K2's first shaped ski, stretch pants too!" photo provided by R. Larick
Happy Father’s Day Rob! Thanks for everything you do for NS!