Mt. Shasta native Robby Burns opened the FIS World Cup alpine snowboard racing season with three races in Carezza and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy on Dec. 14, 15 and 16. His best finish was 39th place in an Olympic qualifying parallel giant slalom in Carezza.
In Cortina, Burns placed 57th in parallel GS and 65th in parallel slalom. His best World Cup finish to date was a 17th place at the World Cup Finals in Winterberg, Germany in March 2017.
Burns, who returned home to Mt. Shasta for a one-week break over Christmas, reflected on his performance in Italy: “As an athlete, I get the unique, rare and blessed opportunity to get real time feedback in my profession. I am trying to be the best snowboarder in the world,” he wrote in an email. “With a lot of help, support and guidance, the conditions for this once far-fetched dream to come true one day are readily being met. And conversely, at each opportunity to check the growth and progress, I am met with swift and unyielding feedback that cares nothing for the time invested, the emotion invoked, or the devastation that is caused in the wake of poor performance.”
Burns is on the World Cup circuit with coach Justin Reiter, an accomplished US snowboarder, and fellow SG Snowboard racer Mike Trapp of Massachusetts. He is also joined this season by wax technician Vinnie Poch of Mt. Shasta. His support extends to his family here in Mt. Shasta, friends around the world, and private sponsors. The son of Mike and Donna Burns, Robby grew up racing on Mt. Shasta.
“I look this in the eye every day, and try my best to be positive,” Robby wrote. “When race day comes, I get one opportunity – 40 seconds to perform – and if I’m lucky I’ll do it 6 times in a day on my way to a gold medal. Hours, days, months, years, my entire life has been devoted to cultivating the ability to prove to the world that I can be fastest down a snow covered course over a time period of 40 seconds, six times in a row over the course of 4 hours. That means if I win a gold medal, I will have competed for a grand total of 460 seconds.”
In parallel events, two racers compete side by side on identical courses with the winner of that run advancing to the next round in the bracket-style competition. Depending on the size of the field, over the course of a single race day, an athlete who continues to win his pairings can compete in six rounds up to the championship run. In alpine snowboard racing, both the slalom and giant slalom disciplines compete in the parallel format.
Burns will return to the World Cup circuit in Lackenhof, Austria on Jan. 6, followed by races in Bad Gastein, Austria; Rogla, Slovenia; and Bansko Bulgaria during January, all Olympic qualifying races.
During the fourth week of January the US Ski and Snowboard Association’s governing body will select the US athletes who will complete in the Olympics in South Korea in February.
“The prize isn’t what you’re after, clearly,” Burns writes. “It’s found in the moments of time spent actively cultivating your trade. So I have learned that even in my best efforts to succeed, and in spite of the disappointment that comes with failure, or even the excitement that comes with success, the real gift is in the process, each and every moment is an unyielding and freely given gift.”
Supporters can follow Burns on the FIS alpine snowboard website at www.fis-ski.com.