Members of the military and first responders have long been active in the Olympic competition, and the 2022 Beijing Olympics is no exception. This year, America cheered on California wildland firefighter Robby Burns, who was on the U.S. Olympic snowboarding team. The professional from Mt. Shasta competed in men's parallel giant slalom. Let's take a look at his 2022 run and his contribution to battling the raging fires in California.

Getting to the top

Burns's own website describes him as a snowboarder, a firefighter and a speaker. He started his snowboarding journey when he was young, began competing professionally in 2014, and 2022 was Burns's first time in the Olympics.

At 31 years old, he is not only a qualifying Olympian but works for the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter during the summer. Burns' firefighting career is as impressive as his athletic ability. During his time fighting fires, he was a part of a hotshot crew, called the Shasta Lake Hotshots. These are the people who are deployed to fight the most intense and hot parts of the fire. Most recently, Burns and his crew were out fighting the Californian Dixie Fire, which was massive enough to have burnt 900,000 acres. Not only that but he was on the crew that fought the Monument Fire. Located in Del Loma, CA, the fire burned 223,124 acres.

For the last five years, Burns has been a professional snowboarder, as Wildfiretoday reports. During his time competing, he wore a belt buckle to represent and call out his fire crew, which he received for being in the crew for three consecutive years. Burns' journey to the Olympics really started when he finished first in the Nor-Am Cup Parallel Giant Slalom race in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. There was a minor setback when he injured his leg during one of his training sessions. Because of this, Burns missed some of the 2021 World Cup tours in Russia.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

The Olympic journey

During his time in Beijing, Burns needed a combined time of 1:22:48 to make it to the medal rounds. Burns' is a two-time All-American and gold medal-winning snowboarder. Those accolades were achieved when he was in college at the University of Idaho.  In 2022, he missed qualifying for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang by one slot.

Other first responders who competed

Due to their drive and determination in everything that they do, there are usually quite a few first responders representing America. Here are some of these firefighters who have competed in the past and present Olympics:

  • Lea Ann Parsely: Now retired, Lea Ann was the first female skeleton athlete to win both a world cup and bring home an Olympic medal.
  • Jimmy Watkins: This first responder finished sixth in the men's cycling sprint in 2012, which was the best in 12 years at the time.
  • Lovie Jung: In 2008, Lovie won a silver medal with her team in Softball. Now, she is an active firefighter and paramedic for The City of Riverside Fire Department.

There is a long history of first responders and military members who excel in their chosen sport well enough to make it to the Olympics. Robby Burns is another example of this devotion — whether it's a professional sport or saving lives.