Pioneer: Bob Burquist, Full Interview—Antihero to the Mega

It’s a bit more personal, but I did want to ask—you were probably the first pro skater to marry a female pro skater (Jen O’Brien).
I’m not really the first. There was Primo Desidario and his wife.

(Laughs) That’s true. Was Dianne (Desidario) pro though?
I don’t know.

Personal stuff aside though, was it everything it was cracked up to be? Like when you were 15, if somebody told you that it would sound amazing.
(Laughs) Yeah. It was all about skating and having a good time. The responsibility for both of us was just to skate. It was a friendship like any other that evolved into us becoming lovers. It was definitely a rad time. We had a beautiful daughter together, Lotus, who’s grown. And now she has a step dad who’s a non-skateboarder that is also a whole other reality. Relationships are tough. I’ve separated again. So it’s hard. Especially with the world that I live in which is traveling constantly. You have to have a strong understanding of each other and what goes down. My main thing is that skateboarding has taken me many places and I’ve met many people. It’s all part of growth. You fall and you get back up in your life just like on a skateboard.

Most impressive street visitor at your Mega (Duffy, Heath, Lizard, Sheckler)?
Heath Kirchart, with the nosegrab 3—the style and speed were pretty rad.

Bob’s part from Flip’s Extremely Sorry (’09).

It looked like he landed standing up too.
Yeah. He landed good. I gotta say though. Pat Duffy might have the best, out of all those guys, the one that stands apart. Just because, I mean, he went for the quarter. And it’s almost the reason, what happened to him—he got broke off (broke his leg), but the fact that he went for it—I mean, even if you have vert skills it can take you out. I remember before Duffy got hurt everyone wanted to try it, but after Duffy got hurt, all the calls stopped. Nobody wanted to try it after that (laughs). After a while, Sheckler did it, but they would all jump off before the quarter. Lizard was rad. (Rob) Dyrdek made this whole spiel about going, made this whole thing out of it but then never came (laughs.) I think after people saw you could get hurt it changed the psychology. I think most skateboarders could do it with the right board. It’s like bombing a hill into a launch ramp. You’re going to make it across one way or the other.

Have you ever done it with a regular setup?
No. That would be dumb. That would be a bad move.

Skateboarders are all about being dumb. Trying to loop Baldy might sound dumb to a regular person.
(Laughs) I know. Anything I do might sound crazy but I try to think about it as much as possible and minimize the risks.

Would you not even make it over the gap with a regular setup?
No. You could make it. It would be real wobbly. You might end up getting hurt. On the Mega, equipment is everything. I’ve done it no pads. I did a switch back 180 without pads and a 540. Just to say I did it. That was scary enough.

Raw footage of Bob’s first ever fakie to fakie 900 on his Mega in ’11.

How did the fakie to fakie 900 come about?
Oh man. I had just tried nines so many times—forward-to-forward Indy nines. I just wanted it so bad. I spent hours and hours trying to get it. Then I started doing 720s, like fakie-to-forward Indy sevens. Then I learned the forward-to-fakie 720s too. So it just seemed like I could combine those two and have a fakie-to-fakie nine. So I just tried it one day, and I remember I almost made it the first day. I called everyone the next time I tried it the next day and I made it after an hour or so. It all lined up.

So you can put a 900 on your resume.
(Laughs) Yeah. Exactly, that’s all that matters, right? No, but it was similar to the switch gap loop. I didn’t set out to try it that way but it just ended up working out that way.

Is it crazy to watch Tom Schaar or these kids where their setup tricks are like a 900?
It’s insane. They’re so good. But that’s what it takes. They grew up in different times. The tricks they are starting out with are the ones we worked our whole lives to realize. To them that’s the norm. So they start from there. They go and spin on trampolines and practice it. Tom is super good at gymnastics, so he combines all of that and he lands the 1080. It’s amazing to watch. It’s the next generation. They’re still going to learn all the flip tricks and lip tricks so who knows how far they can take it.

Taking X-Games Gold in Barcelona earlier this year.

What is the biggest rail you ever skated streetwise? Didn’t you try to 50-50 the huge rail in SF, Daly City? The one that Elijah Berle recently had a TransWorld cover of on the other side I believe.
I tried that one when I was skating there with Phil Shao one day. I slammed really bad. I think it might have been in a 411. But the biggest one I ever did was here in Brazil at a buddy’s apartment complex that he lived in. Atiba was down here shooting photos, but since Guyano Dianos had done it too I think he ended up getting the photo in the mag. But shit man, it was huge. It was round out of this entryway. Kind of crooked and long and drawn out, maybe like 20 stairs. One of those.

Do you ever get the urge to just grab your board and go out street skating alone?
Yeah. I still do. I did it not too long ago up in SF. Down in Escondido too. On a Sunday I went out and just skated spots, some ditches. I did a rail not too long ago too. Maybe six months ago I found a rail and skated it. I get hurt easily though now. So I try and focus on what I can maximize my time on. If the choice is trying a rail and possibly getting hurt or doing a super tech trick on the mega or getting to skate a rad pool, I go with the latter. You have to be efficient at my age. It’s risk management.

You’ve stayed with Lance (Mountain) since The Firm days. Have you guys become pretty close over the years?
Oh yeah. Lance is just awesome. Even before I rode for anybody, I would have such rad conversations with him. Just as a mentor almost and such a rad guy. Even at the Grand Canyon, when I had to fix up the ramp, he helped me with all the logistics on that. Other times I had problems skating in certain events, things that clashed with other ideas I had and I would just have these great conversations with him that would help give me perspective. He’s been a mentor for a long time. I actually took Lance not too long ago up in the helicopter after I got my license. We went up over the El Monte area and searched for pools. Listed everything we saw and then went and skated them together.

What type of stuff would you still like to accomplish?
I still have plenty of stuff I want to do. I’m actually putting a little video part out around the end of the year. We just edited it here in Brazil. Basically a bunch of the stuff I’ve done since the last Flip video. I have plenty of ideas to build. I’ve got stuff going on in Brazil. Bringing the Mega ramps down here. With Danny we have the Mega Ramp company and we’re trying to put together all these events. We were just in South Africa for that Mega event. Then just on the skate side trying to learn more tech stuff, trying to do more no-grab stuff. Basically, keep coming up with ideas and projects and keep having fun.

That’s all the questions I had. I think we covered a fair amount.
Yeah. We’ve been talking for a while. I traveled on a boat, got in a car, and now I’m walking (laughs). I think we covered it.