Sarah Burke was honored in a touching Olympic tribute in Sochi on Thursday night. Burke was a ski pioneer, having pushed for freestyle competition, including the half pipe, at the Olympic level. She died in a ski accident two years ago.
The sport made its Olympic debut in Sochi this week and when slope workers skied down the center of the half pipe following the finals, they formed a heart shape and clapped as they pointed to the sky in honor of Sarah. Burke's parents and husband were in the crowd watching.
The announcer in Sochi for that evening dedicated the night's events to Sarah Burke.
"[The tribute was] far beyond what I thought it would be," Gord Burke, Sarah's father, said during an interview with the Associated Press. "I never really imagined so much love for one person. So much passion and energy."
U.S. skiers and snowboarders tried to laud their fallen friend earlier in the Sochi Olympics by wearing stickers depicting Sarah Burke on their clothing and their equipment, but the International Olympic Committee put a stop to it immediately. Instead they opted to point up to the sky in honor of Sarah.
Officials have said Sarah Burke would likely have been a favorite to win the event in Sochi. American Maddie Bowman won instead, receiving the gold medal. France's Marie Martinod took the silver medal, with Japan's Ayana Onozuka taking the bronze. It was a bittersweet moment for everyone involved with the U.S. Olympic ski team when these ladies stood on the podium. It must have been heartbreaking for Sarah Burke's husband and parents.
The Burke family no doubt took some comfort in the poignant tribute the skiers paid to Sarah, however, and they certainly felt pride seeing her dreams and hard work coming to fruition.
Image via YouTube