Saying farewell to one of Canada's finest athletesNine days after a superpipe accident at Park City Mountain Resort, Utah, freestyle skier Sarah Burke has passed away.
The Vancouver Sun reports that Burke "passed away peacefully around the ones she loved." Also in the article, Canadian Freestyle CEO Peter Judge is quoted as saying: “She transcended her sport and certainly was an icon in the broader sport perspective and that was reflected in her being recognized for an ESPY." The Vancouver Sun has also posted a photo gallery of Burke throughout her life here.
A pioneer of her sport, Burke was the first woman to land a 1080—a particularly difficult trick with three full revolutions. In 2005, she won a gold in halfpipe and a silver in superpipe. She won the X Games gold in superpipe in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011.
Born in Barrie and raised in Midland, Ontario, Burke started skiing when she was just five years old. As she grew older and wanted to enter contests, she discovered that she wasn't allowed to compete with boys. In The Ski Channel's second feature film, Winter, Burke says: "I could beat half those boys but they wouldn't let me in the contests." She wrote email after email to the X Games organizers, pressuring them to allow girls to participate.
Burke lobbied relentlessly to have women's ski halfpipe in the Olympics. She will be missed in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where the sport will be featured for the first time, and where she would've certainly had a place on the podium.
At 14, Burke met her future husband, extreme skier Rory Bushfield. In a clip from Winter (embedded below), Burke talks about the importance of being on the hill. "It's what our lives are….it's where we met, it's where we play, we live." Bushfield adds: "And hopefully where we die."