Sarah Burke, the Canadian freestyle skiing pioneer who died in January 2012, was remembered at the Sochi Games by her fellow athletes and others for her contribution to the sport. Prior to her death, Burke had had successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee to add the Superpipe event to the Olympic Games.
Burke was remembered on the night the women’s halfpipe skiing made its Olympic debut earlier this week, with crew members forming the shape of a heart as they skied down the middle of the halfpipe slope in her honor, NBC's Today.com reported
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"I’m thinking of Sarah every day," 29-year-old Marie Martinod of France, who took home the silver medal in the women’s ski halfpipe event, told The Associated Press
. Martinod painted snowflakes on her fingernails to match the tattoo Burke had on her foot.
"I think I didn’t say goodbye to Sarah yet and I still have to do it, and now I feel I’m able to do it because I did what she asked me to do," Martinod added.
Having quit the sport seven years ago, the silver medalist received a knock on the door from Burke in 2011. Burke told her she needed to un-retire, because the show was going to the Olympics and she wanted to make sure all the best women were there, the AP reported.
Burke's biggest supporters at the Sochi Games however were her family, who made the trip to Sochi to watch the sport she worked so hard to make an event.
"Far beyond what I thought it would be," Gord Burke, Sarah's father, told the AP shortly after watching the skiing heart tribute in Sochi. "I never really imagined so much love for one person. So much passion and energy."
Burke’s husband, Rory Bushfield, added that his wife was consistently "graceful" with her approach to convincing the Olympic Committee to make the Superpipe sport an event prior to the 2014 Games.
"If she wasn’t skiing in the pipe, progressing the sport, she was talking to the right people and sending the right emails," Bushfield said. "Gracefully is how she did it."
Burke died in a training accident in Utah on Jan. 19 at the age of 29.
In addition to her successful push to get the Superpipe event added to the Olympic Games, the Canadian was a four-time Winter X Games gold medalist, who also won the world championship in the halfpipe in 2005.
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