Bob Burnquist knows X Games
Bob Burnquist knows X Games perhaps better than anyone. He's competed in all 23 X Games summer events, medaled in every X Games Big Air competition since 2006, and his 27 career X Games medals (12 of them gold) are the most in history.
But at X Games Austin 2015 Burnquist will be just another competitor vying for gold. He will compete in Skateboard Big Air and the debut of Big Air Doubles, which is a new event that combines BMX and Skateboard athletes on the MegaRamp. At the top of that ramp he will be just like everyone else, even though his story, the one that led him from his native Brazil to the skateboarding spotlight, is unlike anyone else's.
Burnquist was born outside Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro to an American father, Dean, a Berkeley-educated agronomist, and a Brazilian mother, Dora. When Burnquist was four years old, he moved with his parents and two sisters to Pleasanton, California, where he went to kindergarten. They only stayed a year before heading back to the south of Brazil. He spent a decade going from city to city and school to school.
In 1988, Burnquist put his skateboard over the edge of a vert ramp for the first time -- and dropped straight to his face. He was 11, and the ramp -- just three blocks from his home -- was the first in Brazil. Smacking his face on the flat bottom didn't discourage him, it motivated him, and in 1994 he moved to the United States to make skateboarding his career.
He went on to win more X Games medals than anyone, including a record five straight Big Air victories and a record 12 medals earned in a single discipline.
He took silver last year in Austin, behind a then 14-year-old Tom Schaar. "I don't have to win every year," says Burnquist, who's 38.
Now, Burnquist is still hopping between the U.S. and Brazil. Lotus -- the ballet-dancing daughter he shares with 2003 XG Vert silver medalist Jen O'Brien -- is 15 years old and lives with Burnquist when he's in the States. He also travels to Brazil at least once a month to see his seven-year-old daughter, Jasmyn, and his girlfriend of three years, Vivi "VZ" Zanini.
Even when Burnquist is on the ground in one place or the other, he's planning his next trip into the air. He's a licensed helicopter and fixed wing airplane pilot and a skydiver with more than 600 jumps. He earned his private pilot's license in 2003, began skydiving that same year, and earned his helicopter license in 2011. He can also fly the complicated aerobatic tailwheel planes. He recently flew to Las Vegas just to get a tattoo.
It's been a busy last few years for Burnquist. In 2013, in his groundbreaking "Dreamland" video, he airs out of the quarterpipe of his MegaRamp and onto the skids of a helicopter and flies away. Also in 2013, he skated on a mini vert ramp in the middle of Lake Tahoe.
Lately, Burnquist, who also picked up jiu-jitsu in 2014 and practices a few times a week, has been prepping for X Games Austin 2015 by skating a concrete bowl in Brazil, his own MegaRamp (he owns the only private MegaRamp in the world, which he built in 2006), and a friend's vert ramp.
"It's a matter of progressing," Burnquist says. "It's not an easy thing to constantly bring new stuff and be consistent."