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Remembering Bobbie The Snowgoose Burns, The Ski. 1938-2024

Bobbie Burns was one of the most recognizable skiers from any generation, and is referred to by many as "The Original Hotdogger”. There was no mistaking Bobbie flying down Sun Valley with his long blonde locks flying in the wind and there was also no mistaking the 60” poles! Bobbie always looked at skiing as a limitless form of expression which is why he found racing to be too confining. He felt that when you had gates, you had to go too slow. Bobbie simply put the free in freestyle and essentially created an entire sport.

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Bobbie earned a graduate degree in Chemical Engineering from UW and parlayed that knowledge, along with working at K2 for years, into what was the quintessential ski of the freestyle era in the 1970s: The Ski. Why “The Ski”? Well, Bobbie wanted a ski that had no brand name on it and a look that was like nothing else on the market. Bobbie wanted people to ask “what ski is that?” so he could reply “The Ski”! From this point, mixing colors with different left and right skis was common, as it went with Bobbie's non conformist nature. Light weight, flexible, and fast were The Ski’s attributes. When combined with the lightweight Spademan bindings and Scott boots, it became the first “system ski” combination.

In the later years, Bobbie was one of the first to experiment with shapes of skis, from Bobbie’s “Bad Ass Sidecut”, one of the earlier shape skis, to the Fat Albert, one of the first powder/fat skis. It showed that Bobbie was always looking into the future in ski designs. Bobbie later played with Nano technology in some of his skis.

My very first interaction with Bobbie was in the early 2000s. I came across a pair of Bobbie’s nano technology skis on Craigslist. I decided to reach out to Bobbie and ask him about the skis. Bobbie was extremely helpful in our almost hour conversation and eventually commented that the skis that I had purchased were actually stolen from him. It turns out that it was not uncommon for Bobbie to leave skis by his back door for people to take and demo and hopefully return. This particular pair, along with a few others, were never returned. I felt awful and offered to immediately return these to him. Bobbie graciously declined because he said I didn’t do anything wrong and was unaware that they were indeed stolen. Tricia and I still have these ski in our collection.
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Our next interaction with Bobbie was at the SIA trade show when Scott Skis was doing a The Ski commemorative collection. It was the first chance I had to meet one of my skiing idols/heroes face to face and we spent a good hour talking about the project. From that point, Bobbie and I kept lines open and talked a couple of times a year.


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In 2020 Bobbie was inducted into the U.S. & Snowboard Hall of Fame in Sun Valley, his home town. Prior to the induction ceremony we were able to spend some time with Bobbie and it was obvious that the sun was setting for him. We were told Bobbie might have 20 minutes or so of concentration which was sadly obvious in the two hours we spent with him. We were able to enjoy the few stories that Bobbie remembered over and over again, each time with a sparkle and glint in his Wood River Blue eyes still present.

Bobbie was unable to attend the induction but we were able to spend much time with his daughter Montana, her family, along with many of the Hot Doggers from the 1970’s. Bobbie had The Ski on the feet of so many iconic freestylers like Mark Stiegemeier, Jack Taylor, and Stu O’Brien, along with fellow HoF inductees Alan Shoenberger and Bob Salerno. To have Bobbie inducted in Sun Valley was simply serendipitous. Please read Bobbie’s biography on the US Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame site HERE.

Bobbie Burns’ fingerprints are all over freestyle skiing and the sport would not have exploded in the 1970’s if it weren’t for Bobbie. Everyone who has skied a mogul run without abandon owes a pole raised to The Ski to honor the Snowgoose. SkiTalk has a full catalog of Bobbie Burns and The Ski images archived HERE. Please take a moment to look through the many pages and feel free to add comments here.
About author
Philpug
I started skiing in the mid-70s in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania; from then on, I found myself entrenched in the industry. I have worked in various ski shops from suburban to ski town to resort, giving me a well-rounded perspective on what skiers want from their gear. That experience was parlayed into my time as a Gear Review Editor and also consulting with manufacturers as a product tester. Along with being a Masterfit-trained bootfitter I am a fully certified self proclaimed Gear Guru. Not only do I keep up with the cutting edge of ski gear technology, but I am an avid gear collector and have an extensive array of bindings as well as many vintage skis.

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A true maverick and a nice guy who really colored outside the lines . Seems he was always smiling. Here two pictures, one from the 90’s and one from the 70’s . RIP
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I knew nothing of Bobbie Burns but feel I do now. What a great remembrance and reminder that skiing should be fun first most.
 
My unexpected interaction with Bobbie Burns. Eleven or twelve years ago I was cruising eBay for vintage gear and a pair of yellow/blue nano THE SKI came up and I saw the seller was bobbieburns1. I thought no way. I messaged him, are you THE Bobbie Burns or selling for him or what? He messaged back he was indeed the real thing and was cleaning out his garage. Great! I bought them and asked him to autograph them. So, now I guess he has my phone number with the shipping address and he phones me! He wanted to make sure I got the skis alright and everything was good. We talked a bit, or rather, I listened as he told stories. Very entertaining.

He continued to list skis and I eventually bought 6 pair from him. Must have spoken several times on the phone. Then some time in 2013 he calls and is a bit excited and tells me about his new THE SKI by Scott but "but don't tell anyone. The guys in the back don't even know." Of course I didn't. I think it was just several days later Phil announced it on Epicski. The whole thing is still a bit of a wonder. I did text and email him from time to time and update him on my collection but soon after did not get any replies. I thought just super busy with his new skis and also thought about his advancing age so left well enough alone.

Maverick is an apt description of Bobbie. His focus on fun comes through on the graphics and even his hand writing has a bit of whimsy.

Rest In Peace Bobbie and thanks for all the skis!

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Nice tribute Phil! How did he get the famous CMH lodge named after him?
I have wondered the same thing so I googled the question and google answered but no link to anything. It is named after a mining claim that was named after the poet Robbie Burns. This seems more likely.
 

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