X Games Austin 2015: Bob Burnquist Talks 20 Years of X

28 medals, a new Big Air gold and countless fractures ... But he's not retiring anytime soon.

Drew Bryantby Drew Bryant

 

What makes Bob Burnquist special

If you’ve ever been even a small fan of skateboarding, you’ve most likely heard the name, Bob Burnquist. More so, if you’ve ever taken any kind of interest in the X Games, you’d know just how legendary the skateboarder is.

Along with BMX rider Dennis McCoy and fellow skateboarder Andy Macdonald, Burnquist is one of just three athletes to have competed in every summer X Games since its inaugural 1995 showing. He’s also the most decorated athlete in the Games’ history.

After Friday night’s win in the Big Air competition, Bob has earned 28 total medals with 13 of them being gold.

More fractures than medals

He actually suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left forearm Wednesday during practice and was able to fight through the pain Friday in Vert and Big Air. Burnquist actually told me, “I’m counting medals, but I’m also counting fractures; I upped my fracture count this week, I’m at 34, so I have more fractures than I have medals.”

​The 38-year-old has been a part of X Games for twenty years now, so he knows just how much it’s changed and grown.

“It’s pretty cool to know that I’ve been around for that long, and have been healthy for every event. I’ve definitely watched it progress and change for the better. It started out as a pretty weird event, it kind of felt like a circus, and they didn’t really know what we were about… With time a lot of the guys started talking, and there was an advisory panel, and it just started shaping into what it is now, and it’s pretty legit,” said Burnquist.

Growing within the X Games culture

​Burnquist also said that he’s seen so many details and edges ironed out with X, and even with the magnitude of the event now, it still holds true to its core.

With the additions of sports and mixing of cultures, he’s also seen changes in where his inspiration comes from as he started looking to guys like Travis Pastrana, Matt Hoffman, and Danny Way to be even more driven.

​Burnquist has grown up with the games. He was just eighteen when he took part in the first park and vert competitions at X in 1995. With that growth has come a change in mindset when he gets set to take on a vert ramp.

“At first, people don’t know about me, so I’m building… Then you establish, then you get there, you get titles you get medals, then there’s expectations, there’s pressure of maintaining that name… If I’m invited to vert, I’m going to take the invitation if I feel like I can go out there and skate, but if I don’t feel competitive it’s better off that I don’t even go, because there is a reputation to uphold. How am I skating? How do I feel? Am I holding up to my own standard? Those things are going through my mind,” said Burnquist.

X Games Austin 2015 - June 5, 2015

Favorite moments

​Over the years the Brazilian born skater has had a lot of great moments at the X Games. Among many other achievements, Burnquist landed the Lien Air Rodeo Flip 720 in Big Air in 2013 and became the first to win the competition four consecutive times. So when asked about his favorite moment, it was obviously hard for him to choose. He ranked Friday night’s win high on the list because of how competitive it was, but he also went back to 2001 and told me how special it was to win his first gold in vert (his 98.00 was the second highest score in X Games’ history of the event).

He then mentioned his first ever gold at X in San Francisco in 2000 for Best Trick when he landed the first ever Fakie 5-0 Kickflip Out. Burnquist even listed one of X Games’ biggest moments as one of his personal favorite moments.

“Tony’s 900, it wasn’t my moment but it was my moment, it was our moment, it was skateboarding’s moment, and that was a special one. I was present, and we were all rooting for him to make it, and as he made it, I was sharing that with him, so I got to pick that as a moment for myself too,” said Burnquist.

Not retiring soon

​With his legendary career at the X Games lasting twenty years, you might think Bob Burnquist would be getting close to the end of his run, but you’d be the furthest from the truth. Burnquist says he’s feeling better than he ever has and that as long as he stays hungry and has the ability to stay on top then there’s no reason to walk away.

“If I don’t feel like I’m competitive, then I won’t. If I feel like there’s another avenue I want to pursue then I’ll go for it, but right now, I’m here, I’m going to keep bothering people, I’m going to keep pushing, and I’m going to be around,” said Burnquist.

Photo Credit: ESPN