Maddie Bowman became not only the winner in half-pipe skiing at Sochi Olympics, but also the youngest American to win a gold medal during the 2014 Games; however, history was made on Thursday as Sarah Burke was paid a tribute in Sochi in spite of the International Olympic Committee ban. The late sportswoman could not see her dream come true, namely the debut of women’s half-pipe skiing during the Olympic Games, but most of the competitors remembered the four-time X Games champion who tragically passed away while training in January 2012 at the age of 29.
The International Olympic Committee banned competitors from wearing stickers which pay a tribute to Sarah Burke during the Sochi Games, mentioning that the gesture is “a political statement,” but the contestants found other ways to commemorate the person who made half-pipe skiing an official Olympic sport. France’s Marie Martinod had snowflakes painted on her fingernails as a way of paying tribute to the Canadian freeskier, but unlike other contestants, she tells a different story about the way in which she was touched by Burke’s determination and kindness. Martinod had competed against the late freeskier as a teen, but then retired and had a daughter, Melirose, who is now four years old. Before the Canadian’s sudden death, she tried to convince the French sportswoman to make a comeback and compete together in the Sochi Olympics. Martinod fulfilled Burke’s wish and won the silver medal, which helped France obtain its highest number of medals earned in one single day.
“I pointed to the sky because the IOC did not want us to wear [the stickers] on our helmets,” Martinod said of the Sochi tribute. “So, we all decided we would point to the sky as a sign of respect for Sarah.”
The Canadian freeskier, Remembered in Many Ways
In spite of the Olympic ban, Sarah Burke’s Sochi tribute took place in many different ways; some pointed to the sky, others wore pendants with the snowflake she had tattooed on her foot and the half-pipe “slippers” formed a big heart and skied down in that formation.
In attendance were also the freeskier’s husband, Rory Bushfield and her parents, Gord Burke and Jan Phelan. Sarah’s close friend, Rosalind Goenewound tapped her helmet before performing, right where a “Sarah” sticker would have been placed and France’s Anais Caradeux uttered “I love you Sarah.”
Australian Torah Bright took her disapproval to Instagram and expressed her feelings with regard to the International Olympic Committee’s decision not to allow them to wear a “Sarah” sticker. The three winners, namely Bowman, Martinod and Onozuka expressed their love for Burke, allowing the Canadian freeskier’s father to witness how many people love his daughter and make him feel the “passion and energy.”
Sarah Burke used to compete against men, because there was no female component; she helped young skiers, brought the sport close to her heart to the Olympic Games and in spite of the ban which prevented skiers to put her name on their equipment, the Sochi tribute still took place and competitors sent their love to Burke and her family.
By Gabriela Motroc