Sarah Burke didn't live to see the Sochi Games, but her family and friends found a way to make sure that the spirit of the late Canadian freestyle skiing star will forever stay in the area.
The Toronto Star reported on Saturday that Burke's husband Rory Bushfield and Canadian coach Trennon Paynter had carried Burke's ashes to the Winter Games and spread them in a few key areas — in the Olympic village, on the top of the mountain and even on the halfpipe where Burke was aiming to win the first gold medal awarded in that sport at the Olympics.
It wasn't easy. Paynter had to get the metal cylinder containing Burke's remains through a number of checkpoints including airport security and metal detectors around Sochi. How'd he do it?
"I'm sneaky," he told the Star.
It was then Paynter who spread Burke's ashes on the pipe.
“I managed to poach a couple of pipe laps,” Paynter said. “I know Sarah wanted to get some hits in the pipe.”
Burke died in January 2012 at age 29 after sustaining injuries during a crash in training and her memory has been a major story leading up to these Games and throughout them. It was Burke who was at the front of the push for ski halfpipe to be included as an Olympic event. In 2014, her dream finally became a reality.
As the Winter Games held its first freestyle skiing events on the halfpipe, fellow skiers frequently mentioned Burke's influence and friendship, skied down the pipe in the shape of a heart in her honor and even tried to wear memorial stickers on their helmets before the IOC denied their request.
After the women's halfpipe event, American skier Maddie Bowman pointed to the sky from the podium with her gold medal and said she tried to make Burke "proud."
With the Winter Games drawing to a close, it's quite clear that Burke's family and friends have every reason to feel proud themselves. They really did her legacy justice while in Sochi.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Sarah Burke