Since returning home in late January from the World Cup circuit, Mt. Shasta alpine snowboard racer Robby Burns has been busy training, racing and giving back to his local race community. He also cheered on his teammates who competed at the Winter Olympics.
Burns took first place in two parallel slalom races in the Nor-Am Cup on Feb. 20 and 21 in Canada, and he was blown away when teammate Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic became a superstar in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Burns trained, traveled and raced with Mike Trapp of Massachusetts and Ledecka under the coaching of Justin Reiter throughout this World Cup season.
Trapp, one of two athletes representing the US in Alpine snowboard racing at the Olympics, placed 30th, while Aaron Muss of New Jersey placed 20th.
Ledecka became the first woman to win gold medals in two different sports at the same Winter Olympics. She placed first in both the women’s snowboard parallel giant slalom and the ski Super G.
“I was speechless, I was mind blown, I was like, wow, she did it,” Burns said of Ledecka. “But I wasn’t surprised. If there was someone who was going to do this in the world, who was going to make history at this Olympics, it was going to be Ester Ledecka. If you knew what goes into her routine, if you knew how hard she worked, or how tirelessly she worked, then I don’t think anybody would be surprised at all that she was able to do that.”
Burns and Trapp have been training together for four years. He spoke about their relationship and the conversations that took place leading up to qualifying for the Olympics: “From the very beginning we had that thought in the back of our heads that there’s a very real chance that only one of us gets to do this. I have nothing but love in my heart for Mike. He’s been working at this for 12 years. I’m proud of him that he got to do this thing that was so important to him that he spent 12 years of his life trying. And I hope that he got everything out of that that he wanted to get out of it. And I think he did. I’m proud of him and honored to be his teammate.”
Burns raced at the Nor-Am Canadian Nationals Feb. 5 and 6, where he placed 4th in parallel GS and 14th in parallel slalom. He then returned to Steamboat Springs, CO, to train and re-energize after learning that he would not be going to the Olympics.
About going to Steamboat, he said, “There are a lot of things I can reach out to and lean on in this time of just feeling sad, feeling demoralized about the Olympics, and trying to figure out how to get back to what makes me perform well, what makes me feel good as a person.”
The training went well, as things he’d been working on with coach Justin Reiter during the World Cup season became clearer. After a week in Steamboat Springs, he flew back to Canada and claimed two first place finishes in the Nor-Am Cup.
“To take that energy back up to Toronto, to the same place, same venue, and perform two days in a row and get two first places finishes was huge,” Burns said. “And it’s also a testament to all of the work that Justin, Mikey, Ester and I put in over the last nine months.”
While he’s been in Mt. Shasta, Burns had the opportunity to train with the Mt. Shasta ski team at Mt. Ashland last weekend. This included some one-on-one time with Tate Harkness, the Mt. Shasta High School sophomore snowboard racer who won the women’s state championships as a freshman last year.
“I wanted to hang out with these kids and teach them what I know about snowboard racing and ski racing in the hopes that not only do we have fun together, but that they learn something from me,” Burns said.
During that training day with Harkness, Burns was texting with Ledecka. He told her he was working with young athletes, and she was really excited. When he mentioned Tate specifically, “Ester told me, I want you to tell Tate I said ‘hi’ and that I wish her the best of luck at her races at States. That was huge for Tate, it was cool for her.
“Ester was stoked on what I was doing, she loved it. She would have been there if she could. She would have been down to ride with all those kids.”
Reflecting on the work he’s done over the season, Burns said, “Again that’s a testament to the people you choose to spend your time with, to endeavor in these things with. They’re special people.”
Burns will be returning to finish out this season’s World Cup races in Switzerland and Germany.