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They say nice guys finish last, but Ralph Kucharek is running with it anyway. In fact, ask anyone what they think of him and the answer is the same — he’s the nicest guy ever. This gentle giant grew up in South Burlington, was coached by Internet celebrity Jerm, and still managed to come out alright. As a Burton Knowbuddy, he’s made his way across the country, making friends along the way, and has no where to go but up.
Why are you so damn nice?
I used to be a bit of a shithead when I was younger and that wasn’t very cool. I like to treat others the way I want to be treated so I try and live my life sort of like that
I hear you’re a heartbreaker.
Yeah, I had one stage in my life where I was dubbed “Ralph the heartbreaker” by my cousin, Nick Lash. Basically, I got my heartbroken and decided I wanted to go hang out with a lot of girls and I was really bad at being straightforward. It turned into me sort of lettin’ ‘em down. But since then I’ve moved on.
What are your priorities in snowboarding?
I’m not sure, they’ve shifted a lot over the last few years. I mean obviously being a professional snowboarder would be fuckin’ awesome but I’ve gotten the chance to meet a lot of really amazing people over the last few years so I’m pretty happy about that. But yeah, just like anyway that I can keep snowboarding and supporting myself. I just love to snowboard. So I guess my main priority is to just keep enjoying the opportunities that I have been given and keep having fun with my friends.
How are you supporting your snowboarding right now?
Hahah.. basically, the key to my success right now is living at my parent’s house. I save a lot of money doing that. Also I landscape during the summer and work at the Burlington community boat house as the dock master. I do customer service stuff, help dock the boats, and I get the glorious task of cleaning toilets. I’m just sort of inbetwen it all trying to make it work.
Did Zack (Nigro) make you quit college?
No. I wanted to go out to Tahoe after high school and shred for the winter. I ended up doing that and realizing how awesome it was. That turned into two and then three years off. After that, Nigro actually encouraged me to go back to school so along with that and encouragement from my family I ended up signing up for some classes while still riding in the winter. Photo: Erik Hoffman
What size board do you ride? I heard you run big boards!
I ride the ol’ 158. That’s about as small as I go now. I’ve been known to go up to the 160+ range. I’m a bigger guy and I’ve accepted the fact that I need to be riding bigger boards.
What are heel spurs?
It’s known as Hagglin’s deformity, or the “pump bump”. It kind of happens with a lot of ladies that wear heels. It’s a bone spur that forms under your heel. It happens in snowboard boots too. Basically, after years and years of riding calcium deposits formed on my heel and created a bone spur. For the longest time everytime I took a heel edge there was this horrible cutting pain. I just kind of rode through it for the longest time until it got so bad that I couldn’t even get my boots on anymore. They were about a half inch off my heel, all black, blue, and purple. Luckily it all worked out in the end!
What is Side Surfers?
Oh! I’m excited to talk about that! It’s John Murphy’s company. He was working on a farm all summer and needed some extra eye protecxtion. So he made these leather shields on the sides of his glasses. Then he started making them. It’s basically peripheral eye protection. It’s great for Hood in the summer and a bunch of other stuff too! I’ve been fishing with them and it’s great for boating and stuff like that. I’ve been helping him out with the instagram (@sidesurfers, hit us with a follow). You can’t purchase them yet but I know a website is currently in the works so keep an eye out for that.
So what’s up with the Knowbuddy program?
I’m so grateful to be on the Knowbuddy program! Frankie Chapin started it a while back and I think he’s been genetically engineering these fucked up good riders because those dudes fucking rip! Eventually Burton ended up making Knowbuddy decks and they’ve been pushing the concept more and more in the last few years. Zack Nigro actually took over, he and Billy (Allen) are the guys now. I think there are like 30 or 40 knowbuddies at this point. But no one really knows exactly what it is. We don’t even know really. We just ride our snowboards. (It’s sort of like project mayhem. The first rule is that you don’t ask questions)
Who is the most underrated Knowbuddy?
Hmm… I gotta choose a few. I’ll start with Ezra (Racine). He’s a silent killer. Also Jack Kyle. His Superpark performance was absolutely outstanding. You can’t forget about Shane Ruprecht. He’s been killing it for years. He’s been hammering out parts for a while now. I got a sneak peak of some of his stuff for this year and it’s insane. One of the heaviest rail parts I’ve seen in a long time! Kneepads. Also trending. Photo: Erik Hoffman
Growing up in Vermont, who did you look up to as a kid?
Well when I was like 8 or 9 there was this kid at Bolton Valley named Chris Perrin. I was too young to really know what was going down, but I heard some real serious shit was going down at the time. I thought he was the best snowboarder in the world. They had built a hip for the world hip championship. It may have just been my 8-year-old eyes but I’m pretty sure it was at least 100 feet long. I’ve still never seen a hip that big. He got pulled downhill by a snowmobile and sent it like… 80 feet down this hip. It was insane. Oh, also, the legends Chris Rotax and Yale Cousino! One time I saw Rotax do a gigantic double backflip directly over a hip. Yale followed him right after with a cab 10. Gotta give a shout out to Gooner as well!
Tell me about being coached by Jerm.
I was in 7th grade and I joined what was called the “B team” and I was hoping to join the “A team,” We were presented with a guy name Jeremiah Paquette, our coach. I actually realized that I had met him the year before. I was hyped on snowboards in general and I had noticed that he had a board that David Benedik used to ride, that I was hyped on. I asked him about it and he just responded with some dick-head comment and shut me down. I connected the dots and realized who he was pretty quickly. It turned out pretty good, we had a good crew of individuals. We all decided to do USASA contest and Jerm really stepped up his game at that point. He was going to UVM and was basically trying to be the dirtiest guy in Burlington. He said every girl wants a dirty guy in their life at least once and he was going to be that dirty guy. We just ate that shit up. Now that I look back on things…it’s pretty true. So anyways, Jerm would pick us up for our contests at like 7 am, just reeking of booze, and our parents trusted him. It was the shit.
Did he ever touch your ween?
No he was always afraid to do that, thankfully. I was so hyped, learning new stunts as a kid and I was so excited to show Jerm my new stuff and no matter what it was he told me it sucked. But looking back it was probably the greatest coaching tactic in the history of snowboarding. It’s pretty revolutionary.
What’s the gnarliest story that Jerm ever told you?
Ughh.. I got a good one… and I hope she never reads Yobeat but… there was this girl at the Burlington bagel factory
Upstate Mike: Best fucking bagels in Burlington.
(Ralph) Yup best fuckin’ bagels. So anyways, he meets this girl that I’ve secretly been in love with since I was like 14, I don’t know why she’s sill working there… but I told Jerm about her and apparently he went to school with her, and out of spite, one night, he hooked up with her. He completely ruined all my dreams because I will never go where that man has gone before. I think she peed on him. I heard there was a girl that peed on him twice. Someone peed on him once then he went back for more and got punished for it the second time as well. He got peed on again.
Upstate Mike: That just made my night, hearing about Jerm getting peed on.
(Ralph) But, I don’t know for sure that it was her. I like to think that it wasn’t.
I have a series of either-or’s and you have to pick one! Okay? Catfish Chronicles or Yobeat?
Hoooooooo, you’re throwing me under the bus! Yobeat for articles and general shit talking and Catfish for video selection.
That’s cheating, but okay, how about… Frequency or fly fisherman’s journal?
I’m going to go with Frequency because it’s really good reading material.
Black or white?
Once you go black you never go back.
Powder or rails?
Rocker or camber?
College party or bar?
Basement or roof?
Frontside or backside?
Loomis or South Willard?
Tell me about 68 south Willard.
We had the party house that was passed on through generations. I started hanging out there around age 18 and just sort of ended up moving in. It was the kind of place where people would just show up unannounced and we would have random parties. That’s where “Ralph the Heartbreaker” originated. One of my room mates had made a poster that said Ralph the Heartbreaker and hung it in my room. I didn’t notice it for like 2 weeks. Then I brought a girl into my room and she just wasn’t into me and I didn’t know why. I was being cock blocked by the poster and I didn’t even know it.
Some girls would see that and see it as a challenge…
Right? I hope so.
Alright, let’s end this with some Sponsor shout outs.
Burton snowboards, Dragon optics, WeatherMTN Clothing, Talent Skatepark, Stance Socks. Thanks to Brooke Geery, Mom and Dad, Noni, Nigro, Andrea, Jags, Frankie, Billy, Kyle Martin, Shem, Jesse, Travis and Brad, Lemi, Sawyer, Haddock, Murphy, Ezra, Tony Chiuchiolo, The Catfish, Hoffman, Nial and Christine, Furey, Hondo, Yale, Post, Kenny, Riley, Cleary, Durand, Hannah and Dave, Tommy, Brady, Connor, Ryan, Loomis, Paul Heran, Colt, Stark, Alex Andrews, Tommy J, Zager, King, Stan, GBP, Patrick, Danger, Slaughter, Dyl9, Johnny OC, all the NH homies, all the Tahoe homies, and everyone who has helped me continue to love snowboarding.