Q & A with Pat Burgener
In this Kooloco exclusive we sit down with 24-year-old professional snowboarder and musician Pat Burgener. The Swiss athlete, who achieved 5th place at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, reflects on his training regime, how action sports are changing and his future aspirations. He also offers advice for anyone keen on becoming a professional sportsperson.
As a child, I wanted to be different and for me, this was the best way that I knew how. Snowboarding allows me to escape. It’s a lifestyle that’s different to anything else. The sport allows me to express myself and just be me. The same can be said about my passion for music.
How do you keep fit during the off-season?
I surf a lot, in places like France, Spain and Portugal. I went to San Diego this past summer to record an album and took time off to surf there as well. Surfing is one of the best ways to keep fit as one uses a lot of energy. Through surfing, one can stay fit and have fun. This is how I prefer training as opposed to being in a gym. I do some weight training in order to improve my strength. However, action sports such as skateboarding, even jumping on a trampoline helps.
Snowboarding and the Olympics. Selling out or a good match?
This reminds me of one of my idols, Terje Haakonsen, who once refused to go to the Olympic Games as he felt that snowboarding didn’t belong there. There was a time that I also felt this way and thought that action sports should not be part of such a huge event. Then I realised that the Olympics could help make a sport like Snowboarding more appealing. A hobby or action sport is then taken more seriously, not only by younger athletes but their parents too. Becoming a pro rider then becomes a life goal.
How else is the action sports industry changing?
Previously there was no Swiss snowboarding team but because we compete in these games we were able to create a family, the Swiss national snowboarding team. This would never have been financed if it were not for the Olympics. Now I see Swiss skateboarding also has a team. That’s when you really grow a sport when you have a team that trains together, motivates each other and can take a sport to a higher level.
What are some of your hopes for the upcoming season?
I aim to be the best I can. We travel so much and learn so much as we tour. There is a lot of pressure to succeed. It makes one a bigger person. At the same time, I try to enjoy the experience. I achieved third place at the previous world champs and I hope to improve on that. Hopefully by reaching second or first place. We’ll see.
What advice do you have for anyone keen on becoming a pro athlete?
Just do your thing. Find something inside you that makes your heart beat. You’ll know it if it feels right. I knew right away that snowboarding was for me. Believe in what you do, no matter what people say. Whether you become world champion or not, whether you win a medal or not, it’s important that you continue to have fun.