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On January 19, 2012, the snow industry lost an icon. Sarah Burke, freeskiing pioneer, six-time X Games gold medalist, beloved wife of Rory Bushfield, daughter, aunt and friend passed away. The following eulogy was issued by the Canadian Freestyle Association:
Sarah was truly a legendary athlete, role model and an inspiration. She was everything so many of us aspire to be. Female athletes everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to Sarah’s passionate trailblazing efforts over the last 15 years.
As the first competitive female freeskier, she successfully lobbied the Winter X Games to include women in freeskiing events on equal standing. It is because of Sarah’s efforts that female winter athletes are some of the only athletes in the world to receive equal prize purses to that of men.
Sarah brought worldwide recognition and validation to the sport she so loved. Every ski athlete chosen to represent his or her country at the 2014 Sochi Olympics will feel her influence. Without her, the sport of freeskiing would not be included. Sarah is a pioneer of her generation.
Her life and legacy embody the true spirit of action sports; a movement of individuals driven to innovate, master and explore the frontier of physical possibility. Sarah’s love of skiing took her life to amazing places. Her accomplishments on skis continue to inspire girls everywhere to believe in themselves and follow their hearts. Her passing is not a cause to pack up our skis, but rather a reason to step-in and ski for Sarah and the dreams that inspired her star to shine.