Am Scramble Interview: Rob Pace

Like Pedro Delfino, Rob Pace’s first photo in Thrasher was a brain-frying cover. Where do you even go from there? Turns out, Rob didn’t have time to think about it as he was already attacking every death-tempting obstacle we encountered. He skated the mellow shit, too. And everything in between. Rob rides for Santa Cruz and Emerica and will get the “Pro AF” post within the year, guaranteed.

Don't miss Rob's stand-out showing, from an unreal serpentine rail to a hubba ride for the ages

You had to get back to work immediately after the Scramble, right?
Yep, the day I got back, I went straight back the next day and did like a 13-hour day. It was a big one.

Oh, man. So yeah, you’re a real amateur; you gotta have a job.
Yup, I sure am. I work for my family’s business, too, so my dad would kill me if I didn’t come to work.

Remind us what your job is.
I work for my family’s company. We do like all earth-moving equipment. I do all the engineering and welding and a bunch of the parts and stuff.

Rob Pace DSC 4606 BURNETT DZ copyRob set the pace at Roxbury—kickflip 50 straight out the gate

Do you know how to operate massive machinery?
I do.

What’s the biggest thing you drive?
I’ve driven a sixty-ton excavator, which is pretty big.

Sounds like it! How long have you worked a real job like that?
I’ve worked here for 11 years now.

How old are you?
I’m 26.

DSC 9381 If you work with metal, you can't be worried about a little blood

So shit, they put you in early.
Yeah, I used to come here even when I was younger and just do stuff and learn stuff. I always used to like coming here and building things and doing stuff with my dad, so I was always here a lot earlier than I was meant to be.

So you enjoy doing it? It’s not a complete drag?
Oh no, I love it. I love it here. It’s great. I get the opportunity to build all my own stuff here and use the workshop and have pretty much every tool I need to make whatever I want out of metal, so it’s pretty fun at times.

Is that how you got so good at kink rails?
No, absolutely not.

Rob Pace Thrasher Cover September 2022Our September '22 mag where Rob made the front and the Fringe, 50-50 down one stack and switchin' to Smith for the second 

What was your reaction when you saw your Thrasher cover?
I think it was like four or five in the morning and I seen my phone kind of blowing up. Then when I read it I kind of exploded out of bed and just started running around a little bit. I went to my outdoor refrigerator and got myself a beer and drunk a beer at four in the morning. Then I woke up my dad and made him drink a beer with me at four in the morning.

Oh, man. So then did you go back to bed or was that just an early start to the workday?
Oh, there was definitely no going to bed—I went straight to work. But yeah, I was pretty distracted all day—that’s for sure. I sat in the office chair and I told everyone not to talk to me all day about work-related stuff or subjects.

So you’ve been doing this for a while and kinda floating. I’ve seen your name for many years. How’d you get this momentum recently? Have you changed your shit up? What’s going on?
I think the last couple of years me and my filmer out here have just been putting all these little projects together. Nothing really for any brands, we’ve just sort of been doing our own thing. And then unexpectedly I had a couple parts come out during one year and then getting the Australian Skater of the Year was massive. I feel like all the momentum kinda came off the back end of all of that.

Rob Pace DSC 0331 SQUARE BURNETT DZ copyHe skated every spot—feeble around the van

Yeah, the ASOTY.
I was going between board sponsors and trying to figure all of that stuff out—I went on a three-month US trip to do that and meet a couple of people. The Santa Cruz thing happened and then getting invited on all those trips, it all just kept flowing and kept going. It was great.

Yeah, how did you know that Santa Cruz was the right choice for you?
Well, I think it’s great that they also have a really good understanding with the international people. They have really good support with all of that. I mean, the team’s great. When I met Pizzle and Andrew Cannon it all seemed really good. When we spoke about everything, they just seemed like they were really interested and they had a little opportunity for me so it felt like the right choice.

Rob Pace DSC 2516 BURNETTMakin' good choices on a crooked grind over the planter

Yeah, and then you’ve been going crazy ever since. You’ve been on all kinds of trips, right? What was your summer like?
Yeah. Well, I went on the Am Scramble and then I went straight on the Saints and Sinners trip after that. I just extended my stay and rode out the visa that I was on and filmed out there with a bunch of the Emerica dudes. Yeah, I’ve just been trying to film as much as I can and really taking the opportunity while I have it, especially when I only have a three-month visa, just get as much shit done as I can.

So were you ready to jump on the Scramble or did you have any reservations?
No, I mean, not really. I was ready, man. When I got that call and they told me about that I was fucking hyped. I was too scared to even skate at home. I was like, I’m just gonna wait it out, fly over and skate when I’m there.

Who did you know on that trip before you went on it?
I knew Patrick and Kieran and that was it. I’d met Patrick previously on trips that I’d been on, so I was pretty stoked to see him there, too. That was cool. I got to see him again—I hadn’t seen him for like three or four years so it was super good to catch up with him on that trip.

Rob Pace DSC 0307 BW BURNETT DZ copy Smith to kickflip in the Ivy League

Rad. Yeah, we had people from all over and all different styles of skating. We had these pure street skaters like Nick Matthews, we had little Noah and Max trying to drag pole jams everywhere. What was it like to skate watching all these different approaches?
Oh, I loved it. That was probably the coolest part about the whole trip was seeing everyone skate so differently and to see other people’s minds work differently and see spots in different ways. So it was super sick.

It seems like you and Kieran—it was rare that you didn’t at least try something at the spot. Is that the Australia way? 
I’m not really too sure. I think I’ve always sort of done it to myself, like if I go on a trip I try to skate every one of the spots. Even if it’s something that I can’t really skate, it’s like I kinda like the challenge of just trying to do something even if it’s something that’s not so great—just trying to do as much as I can, I guess. And I guess Kieran has kind of the same mindset, too. He skates ramps and he’s at the top of hubbas being like, Hey, man, how do I do this? He’s asking me how to skate the hubba and I’m like, Dude, just go for it and you’ll do it straight away. He just rode full speed and hit the hubba and landed it. I’m like Yep, that’s the way you do it.

Yeah, he seemed like he was definitely figuring it out as he went, right?
Yeah, ’cause he was like, Ah, man, I don’t know how many transition spots we’re gonna go to. I don’t really know what to expect. But then it seemed like it didn’t even matter—we would get to anywhere and he was out there skating and killing it.

Rob Pace DSC 8618 BURNETT DZ copyYou have to see this to believe it—over the back to snake attack!

Yeah, I didn’t really feel like we needed to take him to the bowl at all.
No, that was so sick to see that. I was really stoked for him for that.

Who are some of the people or tricks that really surprised you on the trip?
Nick Matthews’ skating is incredible to watch. A bunch of the stuff he did on the trip was super impressive skateboarding. It just seems really powerful as well, when you watch it.

What was your favorite trick that you got? You got a lot of tricks—you ollied into the triple-set hubba, you did the crazy snake grind. What was your favorite move that you were most satisfied with?
God, that’s a hard one. I think probably the snake grind 50-50 just because that rail was so unique and it felt like the coolest thing to do. Those curves were so aggressive, it was super fun. When I locked in and went around it, it felt super rewarding.

Rob Pace DSC 2642 BURNETT DZ copyThe last guy who tried this broke his back. We didn’t tell Rob that until after he made it, though

I didn’t think it was possible.
Yeah, I was hyped on that one, that’s for sure.

What about the ollie into the hubba? I don’t know if you heard this but the last person who tried it in the ’90s broke their back.
I actually forgot about the hubba. Yeah, that thing was scary. Holy shit, that was super scary. On one of the falls I slid down on my knee and I was just looking over the edge like, Oh my gosh. But yeah, I mean, it was funny—after I landed it Tim let me know about all the other people and I’m like, Oh, man, I’m so glad you didn’t tell me this before I tried it.

Dude, yeah, it’s better off not knowing some of that stuff.

Rob Pace portrait BURNETT DZ copy
What’s your actual town that you’re in?
The place that I live is called Tumbi Umbi. That’s the town I live in but the area would be the Central Coast. I definitely wouldn’t say it has a large amount of skateboarding here. As a kid growing up and going skating with my friends, I would get on the train and go to Central Sydney which is about an hour and half away, so I’ve been doing that trip for many, many years.

I was gonna say, with the mustache and the mullet and the heavy machinery, are you kind of an Australian redneck?
Oh, man, I’m definitely not a true one, that’s for sure. There’s some heavier rednecks and mullet dudes out here that are insane.

Yeah, what are rednecks called in Central Coast Australia?

Bogans, mate.
Yeah, there’s a few of them around, that’s for sure. Especially working in the industry that I work in, you see them everywhere.

ROB PACE QUOTE 2000 I WOKE UP MY DADOut late on vacation but still punchin' the clock, kickflip front crooks

They’re attracted to the power tools.
Yup, we call them tradies. You see a lot of Bogans in the tradies.

So the Scramble has become a springboard for a lot of guys to go pro. It sounds like you’ve got a good solid career at home, but is being a pro skater something you’ve ever considered?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I guess it’s the ultimate goal for myself. If it ever happens that will be the pinnacle for me, I feel like.

When will you know it’s time?
I’m not sure—I’m not sure if I get to make that call. I’ll just keep skating, doing what I’m doing and if that happens then I’m stoked—if not, whatever. Just keep skating.

Rob Pace DSC 6970 BURNETT DZ copyWouldn’t be a Scramble without at least one kinked rail of doom. Rob saved it for this diamond-plated disaster ––and survived! Another banger in the books!
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