Freestyle ski pioneer Sarah Burke never got to compete in an Olympics in the discipline she helped drive mainstream and into the Games, but her efforts are being recognized by the Canadian Olympic Committee.
The Vancouver Sun has learned that Burke — a Squamish resident who tragically died in January nine days after sustaining critical head injuries in a fall during a training session in the halfpipe at Park City, Utah — will be announced Tuesday as one of the 2012 inductees into the COC’s Hall of Fame.
She will be going into the hall in the builder’s category.
Ski halfpipe, along with ski and snowboard slopestyle and women’s ski jumping, were added to the schedule for the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
Burke, who was 29 when she died, would have been a gold-medal contender.
The effervescent Burke, who grew up in the Barrie, Ont., area before moving to Whistler as a teenager, often competed against boys in the early years when her sport wasn’t open to female competitors.
She led the charge to get women into the X Games, ESPN’s extreme sport showcase that created the high-profile avenue for adventurous, risk-takers to seemingly defy gravity and push the boundaries in the 22-metre high walls of the superpipe.
Burke was a four-time X Games gold medallist and the first woman to land a 1080, or three-revolution trick.
“As a face and a spokesperson for the sport, she was always very articulate, very intelligent in terms of what she presented the sport to be,” Peter Judge, CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, said in January.
“Sarah was larger than life and lived life to the fullest.”
Although she won’t be in Sochi, her presence will be felt.
At a Celebration of Life for Burke in Whistler in April, Trennon Paynter, the Canadian halfpipe team’s head coach, said that when the team walks into the stadium at Sochi for the opening ceremonies, “Sarah’s the one leading the team in there, no question.”
Burke’s legacy and name will carry on in several ways, with the Association of Freeskiing Professionals recently announcing that the male and female winners of the end-of-season points titles will be awarded the Sarah Burke Trophy.
The Momentum Ski Camp in Whistler, which Burke first attended as a 14-year-old and where she would coach for 11 years, has established a Spirit of Sarah scholarship to send a deserving young female athlete to one of its camps for one week.