Sweat Spot: Bob Burnquist

Updated: April 28, 2006, 7:42 PM ET
By Andy and Brian Kamenetzk | ESPN Magazine

Editor's note: For most athletes, working out is just part of the program. Lifting weights, sprints, batting practice. They know the drill. But for the top athlete working out is more than just a routine. It's a way of life and they do just about anything to push their bodies to the next level. Sweat is regular feature in ESPN Magazine and on ESPN.com that takes a look at the players who know no limits when it comes to sweating it out.

Bob Burnquist
Burnquist gets some air under him on the ramp.

As a skateboarder, Bob Burnquist has an uncertain relationship with big air. Most recently, the 10-time X Games medalist in vert skating snagged gold for vert best trick at Summer X 2005. And in March, just for fun, he jumped from a 40-foot ramp onto a 40-foot rail before base-jumping 1,600 feet into the Grand Canyon. (You try it.)

But, as Buzz Lightyear once observed, there's a fine line between flying and falling gracefully. Surviving tricks is as important as the tricks themselves. Good thing big air can help fix what it might break. During the past year or so, Burnquist has logged about 16 hours in a 96-foot-high wind tunnel at the Perris Valley Skydiving facility in Perris, Calif. Decked out in a jumper's jumpsuit, the 29-year-old Brazilian is thrust 10 to 15 feet into the air by 120 mph winds created by five 200-hp motors.

Once airborne, he purposely throws himself off-kilter in order to train his free-falling body to self-correct. The powerful air currents keep him afloat so he won't get hurt if he can't right himself. "I've gotten a better understanding of where my body has to be in the air," he says. "Next time I'm falling, the correct motions will be automatic." It's a start. But for safety's sake, flying would still be better.

Sweat also appears in ESPN The Magazine.