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A Badger in Beijing: Burns competing in Winter Olympics

January 31, 2022

At the time, being ripped from his home in Mt. Shasta, California, because of choices he'd made and landing at Northwest Academy in Bonners Ferry seemed the worst possible thing that could have happened to him. In retrospect, that year of 2009 turned out to be one of the most beneficial and prosperous years of Robby Burns's life, and helped launch him on a trajectory that will see him soar to the sky in Beijing next week, representing the United States in snowboarding in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

On Tuesday, February 8, the former and short-term Bonners Ferry Badger athlete will compete in the parallel giant slalom snowboarding competition on the world stage in China.

"That means the race should be on in your neck of the woods the evening of February 7 on Peacock Premium, potentially NBC or the Olympic Channel," he wrote.

While working through his year in hell at Northwest Academy near Naples in 2009, Robby became part of the Bonners Ferry community, playing basketball under coach Gordon Allured and finding a home in left field with the boys of spring on coach Tom Turpin's Badger baseball team.

"We went to State that year and it was a wonderful experience growing with the team and creating friendships," Robby wrote. "I also had the honor of going to Senior Prom with my dear friends Casey Watt and Pearl Stormer! That was a memory!"

Born and raised in Mt. Shasta, Robby found a passion for snowboarding at an early age. While undergoing a metamorphosis at Northwest Academy and Bonners Ferry, he maintained his skills, competing several times at Schweitzer during his winter here.

It helped shift his point of view. What he'd seen once as punishment started looking like opportunity. He saw the community he was in with new eyes, and became part of it.

"Boners Ferry has a lot in common with my home town in California," he wrote. "They are both surrounded by mountains, each has four seasons, and I was raised outdoors hunting, fishing and camping. It was very easy for me to fall in love with Bonners Ferry and North Idaho."

After graduating Northwest Academy, which closed in 2018, Robby opted to abide in North Idaho awhile longer before returning home.

"I actually liked North Idaho so much I chose to stay and go to college in Moscow at the University of Idaho," he wrote. "I completed four years of school and earned two bachelors degrees, one in Wildland Fire Ecology and the other in Forest Resources, graduating in 2013. While there, I won two Collegiate National Championships in Alpine Snowboarding, the same discipline I'll be competing in in Beijing."

Turning pro five years ago, the now 28-year-old wildland firefighter has competed in 19 World Cup events in the last three years, achieving his best world ranking so far at 30th and achieving each step of his four-year-plan by earning selection to the 2022 U.S. Winter Olympics Team.

"That year in Bonners Ferry changed my life, and for the better," Robby wrote. "When I look back on the time that has elapsed between graduating from Bonners Ferry to where I am now, I am filled with gratitude for my time spent there and the people who helped shape and mold me into the man I am today. I hope I can give back within a community the way that so many in Bonners Ferry gave so much to me. The last decade has taught me that where there is hope and hard work, anything is possible.

"My year in Bonners Ferry was and still is very special to my heart. I learned a lot about life and even more about myself. Not everyone gets a chance like that, to turn things around and in such a wonderful place. There is a long list of people from that area who deserve a thanks and so much more. Dan Tadlock and family, Kyle Watts, Shawn, Casey and Colton Watt, Dena Cook, coach Tom and Pam Turpin ... just to name a few. The list really could and probably should go on."

He still mourns the loss of coach Gordy, as well friends and teammates Rob Gust and C.J. Erickson, "two bright young souls, gone far too soon."

"I may have not grown up with them, but I sure did appreciate the both of them in the sports we got to play together." he wrote, and he sent a message to any young man or woman reading this.

"Please keep your eyes to the stars, dare to dream, and chase those dreams with your whole heart."

Robby Burns isn't chasing his Olympic dreams alone. Everyone who ever challenged him, motivated him or taken up a place in his heart is pushing him, propelling him to excel. He competes for us, and he appreciates our encouragement and support.

You can learn more about Robby Burns on his website, www.robbyburnssnowboarding.com, or on Facebook.

The 2022 Beijing Olympics will be covered on television in the Inland Northwest on KHQ-6.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

A 9B Media LLC publication
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