Pro snowboarder Robby Burns reflects on shortened season

Bill Choy
obby Burns, above. competes at the FIS Snowboard World Cup in Blue Mountain, located in Ontario, Canada.
                                                                                            Photo Courtesy of FIS

Professional snowboarder Robby Burns had his best season of his career, despite it being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burns, 29, who was raised in Mount Shasta and whose family still lives in town, finished fourth and 10th at the FIS Snowboard World Cup PGS races at the Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario, Canada, on Feb. 29, and March 1.

“These are career-best results for me,” Burns said. “ It was a huge weekend in Canada, and a big step forward on the road to Beijing 2022.”

He is currently residing in Vail, Colo., training in self-isolation. With the ski resorts closed, Burns is finding other ways to prepare himself for when he competes again. This includes taking runs and doing an exercise routine from home and working on continuing to stay in shape and eating right.

Normally, Burns would still be competing in races and getting ready for the USASA National Snowboard Championships, which generally take place the last week in April at Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado. He placed first in both the giant slalom and slalom events last year.

Burns said that the season should start up again for him in December with a world cup race in Italy. His goal is to make the U.S.Olympic team and compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

For Burns, his snowboard career has taken a backseat to what is going on in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is weighing heavily on him.

After all, both his mom, Donna Burns, and his sister, Riley Graham, are nurses at Mercy Medical Center in Mount Shasta, and several of his friends growing up are now nurses. Also, his brother Mike is a Siskiyou County Sheriff.

He said that these dedicated folks are “some of the people in my life who are essential right now for all of us, and I think that’s where a lot of our praise and thoughts should be.”

Burns added that “this pandemic has pushed the pause button on the entire world.”

He said that being a competitive snowboarder, during the winter months, he is always on the move and estimated he is on the road “80 percent of the time.” So, being in quarantine in his condo has been quite the different experience for him.

Burns attributed his success this year to“countless blessings and a lot of hard work.”

The love and support he has received from his hometown has been phenomenal and is also a key component in his success, he empathized.

Last October, a fundraiser was held at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park to help Burns be able to continue to go around the world and compete, and chase his Olympic dreams.

He said the money raised far exceeded his expectations. Because of the generosity of those in Mount Shasta and Siskiyou County, Burns said he was able to compete this past season.

“The community came out and supported me in the most beautiful way,” he said. “I’m so grateful for all the support. I will never forget it.”

“My heart is full with appreciation for every person that contributed to that night,” Burns added. “The feeling that comes with that kind of support is amazing – and I took that with me to every race this season.”

To be able to afford to compete during the season, Burns has taken several jobs, such as previously being a night security guard and a wildland firefighter. Last summer, he returned home to Mount Shasta and worked for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Offices in McCloud.

This summer, he is staying in Vail and has been hired to do landscaping work. He said Vail is a perfect place to set up shop since many athletes aspiring to make the Olympics are training and living in the community. He said it’s been a benefit to be in a town with fellow athletes that are chasing the same goal of competing in the Olympics.

Burns was a candidate for the 2018 U.S Snowboard team but did not earn one of the two spots that were open for male alpine snowboarders.

Since then, he has dedicated himself to his sport, and to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2022. His strong showing at worlds put him one step closer to achieving that goal.

At the world championships, Burns just missed medaling with a 4th place finish, which he said gave him a confidence boost and is ready to improve this upcoming season and hopefully medal at the World Championships next year and improve his Olympic chances.

“I’m going to keep on working on reaching my goals,” he said.

“I am happy with my performance and will continue to work hard to prepare for next season,” Burns added. “I am hungry for more!”