We sit down with Bob Burnquist

Brazilian skateboard star Bob Burnquist has won 30 career X-Games medals and has been nominated for the 2016 Laureus World Action Sports Award, which he last won in 2002.
We caught up with the skateboarding legend:
Congratulations on being nominated for the Laureus Action Sports Award again.  What's your reaction to that?
Well, it was quite a surprise.  It was a nice surprise.  The second time I was nominated was in 2013.  I thought that was a nice surprise, and that was a nice Nomination to come along.  It was a great year.  Felt good.  It feels awesome on my board as the time goes, but it's definitely a big honour.  Having a Laureus Award is one of the biggest honours I have, so to be nominated again is great.
You won back in 2002.  Did you ever imagine then that you would still be one of the world's greatest skateboarders 14 years later?
No.  I did not. I could imagine I would be skateboarding, that's for sure.  But what and how, at what level, no. My daughter just turned 16, so that's her whole life and here I am being nominated again.
What about your X-Games gold in Big Air in Austin the eighth time? Was it your greatest moment in X-Games?
I was feeling great on my board.  I was heading to the event. As soon as I got to X- Games, skating my first day of practice, I break my wrist.  So it was just like a really big letdown for us competing for events, and now my wrist is broken and a lot of pain.  So, I had a hard time grabbing my board and doing certain tricks I was going for. So to then be able to compete in the first event and then all of a sudden, I get a gold medal, I was just happy to be able to compete and try to make some runs.  And then to win, and the next day to be able to skate, it hurt, but I can do it.  And then to win another gold medal and was skating Vert.  I was really tired; I almost pulled out of the event. But I was like, no, just keep it going, skated one more time, ended up with the silver medal which completed 30 medals altogether, which is beyond what I thought, and especially when I get there and I break my wrist the first day.  So it was just like, it was one of those surreal events for sure.
Can we write that down as your best moment in X-Games?
You know, that's obviously a great one, to win this 30th medal makes you reflect and look back. People are like ‘oh, you're going to retire’.  I go ‘oh, maybe when I win 30 medals’.  Like I thought it was never going to be possible. So now I'm putting that number at 40.  I'm putting it way up there.  If I stay and I keep skating it feels great.  It was one of those beautiful moments, yes.
What is your best trick?      
My best trick. I don't know.  I mean, I love to skate.  I guess like not necessarily a trick, but I really like the Big Air, the Mega Ramp genre.  So just doing Big Airs, that is satisfying enough.
You're 39 years old now but still beating the world.  How do you relate to your young opponents? 
You know, one of the great things about skateboarding, you can relate to tricks, you can relate no matter what age and skill level.  I mean, you're skateboarding. And I know that a lot of the young guys, like Tom Schaar, really the young guys that have watched me skate since before they skated. They look at me like ‘oh, my gosh, who is this guy that's almost unreachable?’ I really like that inspiring fact.  And I look at them and go, well, if you guys are pushing and you're skating, I'm going to keep going.
Do you have a point in your mind where you want to stop, or will you just keep going?
I try not to put numbers, days, year, age.  It feels great.  I'm going to keep going as much as I can.  If I ever feel like I'm not giving people or I'm not performing right or I'm maybe not at the top of my game, then maybe I'll think of not competing.  But you know, skateboarding, you don't need to compete to stay relevant.  I can create content in so many different ways.
Do you have to make any compensations with learning new tricks now that you're a little older? 
There's nothing different.  A broken bone feels the same at 39 than it did at 12.  It's the same pain, right.  And I guess it's the recovery process. I feel healthy and I feel great.  I definitely have a work-out programme.  I try to do as much as I can to stay on it.  And coming back from injuries is really the gauge. So as long as I can keep it, as long as I heal up, if I can keep that going, then it's fine.  So it's not necessarily the age.  It's how much you're using your body in activity.  If you're using it, it doesn't really age.  If you don't, then it can age up quickly and it can kind of stiffen up.  So I still feel really good.
Apart from yourself, who are the best experienced skaters today?
I would say one of the guys I really look up to, just for his longevity in competing now is Bucky Lasek.  I remember that the year Bucky turned 40, he won four golds. I remember thinking ‘wow, I would love to be at that level when I turn 40’. So looking at guys that are ahead of you and still pushing, and like Tony Hawk, obviously to still compete, to still skate, to still be on it and be so active, they are inspiring.  And I think that's it.  I think Bucky is one of the best competitive skateboarders that there is and I don't know, 40 something and he's going to win a contest this year. 
Where do you see the sport today and where can it go next? 
I think just the fact that it's being thought of for the Olympics means a lot, means that, hey, this is a sport and this is an activity that a lot of the young guys do, so we need that audience and we need to tap into that generation, because times change and sports evolve and people's activities grow. So it's great to see skateboarding where it is, and how it's established itself as lifestyle and as a sport, and it helps so many kids around the world finding something positive to do.  It really connects the dots. So to see it being pondered for the Olympics is great.  I'm always reticent and I always want to make sure that it’s the right organisation.  So it feels like ISF is the organisation for skateboarding being in there, and that's who I am behind and I am supporting.  I think that there's a decision from the Olympic Committee coming up any time now as far as what organisation is going to govern skateboarding, so just kind of wait and see, see how that goes. But that's where we're putting our support.  If it goes to a different organisation, you're going to see a lot of, well, 100 per cent of skateboarding, being very against skateboarding and the Olympics.  But as it grows, people are excited because there is an organisation and there is a movement with the right people behind it.  So it could be a very, very real possibility for 2020 in Tokyo.
Could you still be skating in 2020?  Could you be going for a gold medal?
You know, the way my life has gone and goes, I put no limits or negative statements out.  I'm going to keep skating, keep going, I don't know what level or what category it's going to be in. I don't compete in Street.  I don't necessarily compete in Cross. I compete in Vert and Mega Ramp.  If one of those are included, then there is a possibility of my involvement.  If not, it could be now or it could be five years ago, I don't compete in Street.  So it just really depends on what the category will be.
What do you say to people who say that skateboard is more lifestyle than sport and shouldn't be in the Olympics?
Well, I'm one of those in a way. But I think there's a time for everything and there's an evolution and a progression to this point. For a long time, I was very against it, and then for a while I was on the fence. So let's make sure we take control of that because we don't want it in the wrong hands. And regardless whether it's in the Olympics or not, skateboarding is going to continue to be more of a lifestyle than a sport. But we box it up in competitions, like X Games, and different competitions in skateboarding throughout the years.  The people and the skateboarders, they are divided into groups of like, hey, we're into competing.  And another group that's like, hey, we're just into creating and living this lifestyle and creating content. So whether it's Olympics or not, even with the competitions that are already in place now, there are skateboarders that aren't into necessarily competing.
There seems to be a lot of progression of women in skateboarding?
Bob Burnquist: They are progressing intensely and creating their own space for quite some time now. They are from all over the world. You are seeing this movement grow more and more. Obviously the skateboarder that comes to my mind as a Brazilian is Leticia.  But there are others from back in the day like Cara?Beth Burnside that have been skating and doing their thing and pushing, inspiring other women to skate.  It's great to see.
Question: Do you see potential for women's Mega Ramp skating at any point?
Bob Burnquist: Well, realistically, at this point, I don't see anyone riding the Mega Ramp to that level.  Now they can compete between themselves at a certain level.  There are a couple of names that I could see getting on the Mega Ramp and starting that progression, but right now, they are not there.  There's no competition. It would take some years to develop and it would have to be a natural progression.  There's maybe one or two that I see that if they wanted to, they could start progressing on a Mega Ramp.
Question: Which is more important to you, making videos or competition?
Bob Burnquist:  Video for sure. When I do compete, I give it all I have. When I'm filming, that's really where you're showing and you're progressing skateboarding, where you can show the technical progression.  When you film technical tricks that take hours to land and then you create those seconds and then keep adding those seconds to that trick and then after two to three years of extensive filming and then you put a five?to-six minute part together, that is like the creme of the creme that you're putting out. I'd rather put a video out that's respected and people just are in awe than to necessarily win again, right.  But they both walk hand in hand, because competing and being successful there, gets your name out there and you get skateboarding out there. So there's two different worlds and I make sure that I walk that fine line and that I have good video cards and that I can still be relevant competing.  But the videos still hold the higher meaning of skateboarders.
Question: You grew up skating any kind of terrain.  Recently you're best known for Mega Ramp.  Have you thought of filming a new Street or Backyard Bowl part like Lance Mountain did recently?
Bob Burnquist: Well, I do, because of Mega and the amount of parts and tricks and video and content that people have seen of me on the Mega Ramp, it is natural that they would think that that's all I do, because that's what you see. But I definitely skate all kinds of other terrain from Vert to Bowl to Backyard Bowls and, yes, even Street.  And I have been way more enthused about coming back down?to?earth a little bit and skating, more technical but in the Bowl. I just competed in Brazil.  It was the first time I competed in a Bowl event in a while, so that was cool to be involved.  Ended up making top five.  So that was like, wow, it felt great. So I feel like I can continue to pursue and film in places other than the Mega Ramp and I have already been doing that.
Question: You're also well known for skating Switch on Vert on the Mega.  What were your inspirations for that? 
Bob Burnquist: Well, I've been pursuing the Switch dream for quite some time, and that has more to do with adding more opportunities to learn new tricks.  So when I was younger, I wanted to learn tricks every day.  I still do. That's the thing, let's learn something new, and then I would learn a few tricks and once I started skating Switch, it opened up this whole range; so instead of one trick now, there's an opportunity for two, regular and Switch, right. So now I have more options to try something. 
Question: Can any skater be taught to ride a Mega Ramp?  How much of it is skill?
Bob Burnquist: To ride the Mega Ramp, if you're only Street, it would be hard if that's all you're versed in.  So if you skate Vert, then you have more of a chance to make that leap. Now, most Street skaters have somewhat of a transition skill, so I can see most of them jumping the ramp, getting across it. When it comes to hitting the quarter?pipe, that's another reality.  Because the quarter?pipe demands a lot of transition skill. 
Question: Have you ever been scared skateboarding?
Bob Burnquist: Yes, almost every time I skate the Mega Ramps I'm scared.  And I've done rails; in Street skating and go out there and do big rails, you're scared.  That's just part of it. There's never a moment where you're like, oh, this is fine.  You might get somewhat comfortable with it, but you're still going to be on your toes.
Question: What was your worst moment?
Bob Burnquist: Moments of pain.  Those are bad.  And then they are followed, usually, by the great moments depending on how you keep pushing it. One of the worst moments, obviously breaking my face was horrible, it was painful.  It was just like, oh, my gosh, that just happened, and then continued to push and skate, and then still be able to come out with something, and then breaking my wrist, I was in so much pain. When something like that happens and you come around and you keep pushing and you keep believing, and you end up with a reward.
Question: Do you think you revolutionized skate when you landed a 900 on a Big Air quarter?pipe in 2011?
Bob Burnquist: The 900 had already been done by Tony Hawk back in '99 on the Vert Ramp and that was incredible.  Landing the 900 on the Mega Ramp was a big jump because I was trying it for a long time. It wasn't necessarily that I landed the 900, it's just the way I was able to do it, because it's just what came more natural to me was to do it Switch, to do it Fakie, start backwards and end up backwards. So in that way, I know that I'm the only one that has done that, but also, it was the only way that I found to do it.  So I actually think the other way to do the 900 is a lot harder.  It's a matter of perspective. I feel like that did change things, but not necessarily that I revolutionised skateboarding with that. It's just another trick, but I see to this day in other skateboarders’ runs, that the influences are there.
Question: What is a typical day for Bob Burnquist at the moment?
Bob Burnquist: I've been skating, I've been going back and forth to Brazil a lot.  I've been spending a lot of time there, almost like three weeks there, two weeks here, just back and forth a lot.  So either I'm preparing to go to Brazil or I'm preparing to come here [US]. And then I'm skating as much as I can, any terrain that I can where before I would focus on one thing.  Now I have like five or six board set-ups.  Like each board is for one thing.  I have a Street board, a Vert board, a Pool board, a Mega board and then I just grab it and go.  If I want to skate, cool, I'll skate it. If I want to ride the Mega Ramp a little bit, I'll skate it. Then make sure that I'm eating everything I need to eat because I do use a lot of energy. The strengthening, the training outside skateboarding. I started jiu?jitsu about a year and a half ago, and that's been helping with the stamina and also with the mind. So yeah, I try to stay very active and try to just wake up and get things that I need to get done, but I make sure that skateboarding is in the to?do list on the day.
Question: Can you tell us about "Dreamland" and how you got the idea and how it works?        
Bob Burnquist: It was a dream when I was a kid to have a ramp in my backyard.  And as time went by and I became a professional skateboarder in the US and was able to search out and find a place to live, I made sure that I was looking for somewhere that I could build ramps.  That was my focus. As I  looked at houses, I was looking at the backyards and making sure that I could fit a ramp wherever I found the place.  When I found this place here in Vista, I kind of just saw this big open space, and the house needed a lot of work but it didn't even matter.  I saw the ramps and could already envision it. So we made the move and started building, and it just grew and grew, and added a corkscrew, added a full pipe, a loop.  And then like years after, about 2005 or 2006, started building the Mega Ramp.  But just being here, it makes me so blessed, because I know how hard it is and how many people want to have a place to skate.  And how I had grown up in Brazil, didn't really have any places to skate.  Had to get on the bus, crowded bus for hours to get to a park and skate and get on the bus back for hours.  And now I can just stumble up out of my bed and I'm skating a Mega Ramp.
Question: What about your famous skate on Lake Tahoe in 2014?  How did that happen?
Bob Burnquist: You know, that's one of those opportunities.  I got a call from the state of California, to do a project with them. And so we did this documentary. So the year after, they wanted to do commercials and asked if we'd like you to be involved. They wanted to build something neat and were talking about Lake Tahoe and we built a ramp in the water. It was one of the most amazing experiences. It was just beautiful, obviously, Lake Tahoe.  You can see the footage and you can see how amazing it is. It wasn't like necessarily a highly technical ramp with amazing performance skateboarding, but it's the whole place and the idea and the visuals. It's one of my favourite projects.
Question: Is it in your plans to come back to the Nitro Circus Tour soon?
Bob Burnquist: Not necessarily.  I've done it here and there throughout the years and that's always fun to be a part of.  It's quite a wild energy and it can be very creative or disruptive, depending on how you go about it.  But it's a fun group.  Pastrana is quite the character, but I don't have anything planned as of yet.  But it's great to see them and what they are doing and keep pushing the envelope there.
Question: Can you tell us why it's so important for great sportsmen like yourself to give back to those less fortunate, and why is skateboarding such a brilliant medium to engage young people?
Bob Burnquist: Well, I just go back and just look at my life, where I was before skateboarding and when I started skateboarding, and how it changed my life. And I think that if anything, just sports in general, it just takes people to a more magical place of inspiration and progression. You've got to dig deep to really get in touch with who you are through sports.  And in skateboarding, it gave me that life. If things started going a little off in life, skateboarding was always there, and I always had that to fall back on because that's what I was in love with, and everywhere I went, it didn't really matter how much money I had or the colour of my skin or what neighborhood I was from.  It mattered what type of skateboarder and how my ability on the skateboard. So you can go to a skate park and you can have the richest kid and the poorest kid, or the different races, and you're all in there together as one because it doesn't matter.  I think that that's what's great about it.
Question: Laureus supports the Indigo skate projects in Durban, South Africa and of course Skateistan in Afghanistan won the Laureus Sport For Good Award last year. So skate is reaching new frontiers?
Bob Burnquist: I think that it just shows the beauty of skateboarding and how it can just touch and connect people because you jump on a skateboard like I said.  And the Skateistan programme is amazing because you see the women involved, and you know how intense it is for women in a lot of these places. And to be able to then go and skateboard and do something that's completely different and odd and then  you see the excitement in them and how happy they are about landing a trick. I know what it feels like to try something really hard and then finally land it. So to see skateboarding flower and blossom in these places, that, you know, are so intensely, going through so much with wars and everything, it just shows the magic of skateboarding.  So I love it. I think Skateistan is one of my favourites.  I follow them on Instagram.  It always brings a smile to my face to see the stuff they do.          

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