This morning I was confronted with heartbreaking news that the skiing community has lost a champion. I have been following Sarah’s journey from the time of her accident 10 days ago. Even though I am well aware of the risks involved in sustaining the injuries that Sarah did on Jan 10th, it still shocked me to read of Sarah’s death. I was overwhelmed with such sadness that we have lost a pioneer, a friend, a competitor, a role model, a very gifted skier and a beautiful person.
I remember being 16 and hearing about this 18 year old girl in North America who was spinning 10’s. I had to get onto youtube and check it out for myself. When I first got into this sport Sarah Burke and Kristy Leskinen were paving the way. When Sarah started competing, she was competing against boys or was forerunning the competition, not allowed to compete as a girl. Sarah helped change people’s perceptions of women in skiing, showing people that women did have a place in freestyle skiing and that we were worth looking at in the park and in the pipe. She advocated for the inclusion of women in freestyle skiing competitions. Not only did Sarah demonstrate this to the media, she also instilled passion and motivation into a generation of girls. These girls are now following in her footsteps and encouraging younger generations to get into freeskiing. Our sport helps young girls to create a positive image, a healthy lifestyle, a good social network and a strong self confidence. Sarah Burke has helped us all recognize these benefits. She has held a presence in the sport at all levels from the grass roots to the top level. Sarah won Pipe in the Xgames in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 and was a key player in getting ski halfpipe into the Olympics.
Sarah will always be remembered as a pioneer and a legend of our sport. Every female freeskier owes a debt of gratitude to Sarah for advocating for the inclusion of women in our sport. Sarah you have made our sport what it is today.
Our support goes out to Sarah’s family, her husband Rory, and her friends. You are all in our thoughts.