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Sarah Burke’s friends took a slow ski down a darkened halfpipe at the Winter X Games on Thursday, saying goodbye to the skier who helped push their sports to the heights they are today.

Burke, who would have been the defending champion in Saturday’s SuperPipe finals, died Jan. 19, nine days after suffering an accident in the Park City, Utah, halfpipe.

At the bottom, friends embraced Burke’s family, still mourning a week after the 29-year-old Canadian freestyle skier’s death.

It was a touching tribute in front of a silent crowd—beginning with a video remembrance of Burke’s life played on the big screens across the venue.

Burke was a four-time X Games champion in skiing superpipe and lobbied to get that sport in the Olympics, where it will debut in 2014.

On the first day of WX 16, the Women’s Ski Slopestyle contest took place. Not only did Canadian Kaya Turski win her third consecutive gold medal in the event on Thursday, she did it by landing the first switch 1080 by a woman in Winter X Games history.

Needing a near-perfect third run to overtake leader Devin Logan (92.33), Turski left no doubt when she landed her switch 10. Her fellow competitors mobbed her at the bottom of the course even before her score had been posted, and moments later Turski moved up from bronze to gold, relegating Logan to silver. Turski landed all three of her runs and scored better than 88 points on each of them.

Australia’s Anna Segal (90.00) took bronze after leading most of the competition, and two-time silver medalist Keri Herman settled for fourth (87.00).

After winning gold, Turski tweeted a message to fellow Canadian Sarah Burke: “Thank you Sarah for skiing with me today! Love to the skies <3.” Burke’s spirit is strong this week in Aspen and there is not a competitor there who isn’t thinking about her and her family. #BelieveinSarah

January 26, 2012

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