By Ellie Rae Horton
“Always walk like you're on a mission.” A small piece of advice from father to son has become the mantra of one man’s every endeavor in life. Those endeavors formed the backbone of our sport as we know it today and established his role as a forefather of today’s unprecedented, technologically advanced skiing. Untouchable achievements have been breached because of this man’s expertise and wisdom. Eddie Roberts is a living legend. And while many know him as the kind-hearted, die-hard skier who can often be found behind the wheel, easing new skiers out of the water or whooping someone's butt in ping pong, behind it all, he is truly one of the most pivotal pieces to water skiing.
An introduction through a mutual water-ski friend - who happened to live two doors down from the O’Brien family on Lake Sammamish - kindled a many-years-long association between Roberts and Herb O’Brien. Roberts was immediately thrust into the industry after he, “watched O’Brien ski behind their Century Arabian inboard and was very impressed to say the least.” The rest is history…a lot of history. That friendship evolved beyond lake-day parties into a right-hand-man partnership at HO Skis.
“He was the muscle and brains behind the operation,” Chet Raley, renowned water ski coach and skier, relays of Robert’s position in the early-days at HO. But it wasn’t just the operation of building skis. Roberts was right in the fire of the birth of each water apparatus - wake boards and all. His hands craved to create: handles, ropes, vest, gloves, water toys, shaped skis, entry level skis, kids products and kneeboards. His total product count is bottomless compared to any other engineer in the game today, praises Chris Sullivan, MasterCraft Business Development Manager, NW North America.
Roberts has ushered in the sphere of ski design. But, surprisingly, his grandeur hasn’t come from a vast secret he’s kept in his pocket. To this day, Robert’s simple code is to be stern and strict with the process. “It’s the reason why any ski design, company or model he has ever been involved in has been so consistent,” Sullivan conveys. “He’s always used what he had to the best of his ability.”
His knack for product engineering helped cultivate one of the most coveted ski brands on the market today. “Roberts is the heartbeat of Radar Skis,” Chris Rossi elite slalomer and Radar team skier raves. Hardly a single product is put through production without Robert’s fingers touching it, and his years of invaluable partnership with O’Brien are apparent in every finished Radar device. Even when there is a problem in the lab, “he always seems to have a solution and keeps things running smoothly,” Brooks Wilson, Radar Global Brand Manager, explains. “He’s invaluable.”
Not only is Roberts a viable element to Radar skis, he is one of the greatest intermediary agents to the past - especially with the passing of O’Brien. “Roberts is the link to our roots,” Trent Finlayson elite slalomer and Radar team skier said. However, Robert’s is more than merely the wizard designer hacking away in the lab and keeping the past alive with his wealth of knowledge. He’s the glue that keeps the family together.
“Roberts has taken me under his wing from the beginning,” Rossi said. His intelligence might be great, but his heart is greater, which is why it is not uncommon to find him wrapped up in countless elite skier’s accomplishments. “Roberts has been and continues to be one of the most crucial components to all of my skiing,” Rossi said. He has built or overseen every ski I’ve ridden since 2004. I would be lost without him.” Even when he has a construction for one of the highest performing skis teetering in his hands, Roberts is never too busy to lend a hand, provide excellent customer service or go the extra mile for others. “He has helped a legion of skiers with everything from fin placement to personal advice,” Eddie Roberts III, Eddie’s son, remarks.
He is the reason the elites of our sport exist and the boundaries have been shattered. “In our sport, if it wasn’t for legendary people like Roberts the others would never exist,” Raley said. “He is a behind-the-scenes legend. He may not be the actual skier, but he is the legs and arms behind the skier at all points at all times.” His expertise in the industry and even more importantly his affable spirit have been indispensable.
Roberts isn’t just consistent as a designer. “He’s always 100% committed to do anything for water skiing,” Sullivan said. He has and still gives everything back to the sport and industry that it gave him.
Offering support even on the advertising side of the sport has not escaped Robert’s repertoire. He’s been an exceptional voice over talent for HO ski ads and is no stranger to assisting with video edits. He is truly a magnet for everything skiing. Robert’s handiwork can be found in all aspects of our sport.
“The industry overall would be a very different landscape without what he’s delivered and will continue to do,” Sullivan admires. “I don’t see him slowing down any time soon.”