Wildland firefighter to compete in Winter Olympics

Robby Burns — parallel giant slalom

Robby Burns firefighters Olympics snowboarder
Robby Burns photo, posted Jan. 28, 2020.

A wildland firefighter will be competing in the Winter Olympics in China. Robby Burns grew up near Mount Shasta, California and has been a professional snowboarder for the last five years. He was a lead firefighter on the Shasta Lake Interagency Hotshots from 2013 to 2015. This past summer, he worked on an engine crew assigned to the Dixie Fire, Salmon River Complex, Corral Complex, Forks Complex, Mad River Complex, and Gasquet Complex. According to the US Forest Service, Mr. Burns recently accepted a position on the Shasta Lake Interagency Hotshot Crew.

“Robby was an integral part of the success of the crew,” said Joe Bogdan, Shasta Lake IHC superintendent. “We deeply respect the sacrifices he has made and his discipline to achieve his goals. We created lifelong and battled-tested relationships through our time working together.”

Robby Burns firefighters Olympics snowboarder
Robby Burns (on right), posted Sept. 15, 2021. Robby Burns photo.

On his website he describes himself as “snowboarder, firefighter, speaker.”

The 31-year old will be competing in the Parallel Giant Slalom event February 7th PT. Qualifications begin at 7 p.m. PT with the subsequent races continuing through the night, U.S. time. (Update Monday Feb, 7: NBC is showing the event starts Monday at 9:40 p.m. ET, 6:40 p.m. PT. Times are subject to change due to weather and other factors.)

When he leaves the starting gate in Beijing, he will be wearing his Shasta Lake IHC buckle, which he earned after completing his third season on the crew.

In January of 2020 Mr. Burns finished first in the Nor-Am Cup Parallel Giant Slalom race in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

In November he sustained a leg injury after falling when he was training in Northern Canada. It put him on crutches and resulted in him missing the first stop of the World Cup tour in Russia.

On November 30, 2021 he wrote on his Facebook page, “Yesterday I made it from two crutches to one! Feels like I just graduated kindergarten! While it was a scary injury to my knee, the pictures say all the real important stuff still works good. With 2 weeks of intense PT the doc says he thinks I’ll be right as rain. So, while the “ship” isn’t moving at full speed, I’ll be moving full speed at this snail pace for a little while. But I’m in the best place to do this work. And sometimes life has a way of telling us to slow down.”

About 16 days after writing he was on one crutch, he competed in a World Cup snowboarding event in Carezza, Italy finishing 42nd of the 70 who qualified. Mr. Burns appeared in two more races in Europe in January finishing 43rd and 53rd. Currently he is ranked 30th in the FIS Snowboard Points List.

Robby Burns firefighters Olympics snowboarder
Robby Burns, photo, posted Jan. 21, 2022.
Robby Burns firefighters Olympics snowboarder
Robby Burns at the Olympics Opening Ceremonies. Robby Burns photo, posted Feb. 4, 2022.

In 2014 another member of the Shasta Lake Hotshots was mentioned on the pages of Wildfire Today when Steven Woodlief bought a $2 ticket in the California state lottery and won $1.3 million, $1,000 a week for life. At the time Mr. Woodlief said he would buy a new truck.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Jim and Kevin.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

3 thoughts on “Wildland firefighter to compete in Winter Olympics”

  1. After working around FS Hotshots during my 30+ year career (now retired) in the FS it does not surprise me that there would be Olympic caliber athletes come from this group of outstanding young people.
    Fact is these Olympic games should not have been held in China due to their human rights violations.
    I hope all of our athletes return home safely.
    I guess it is so easy to criticize our own country yet turn a blind eye elsewhere.

  2. Hell yeh!!!! Not a “line officer” or “program manager”…A HOTSHOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Yeh buddy!!! Pour the coals to it!


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