By Jeff Schmuck
The world of skiing has lost too many heroes. Too many icons, pioneers and legends. But this one arguably hurts the most, because Sarah Burke was so much more than that. She was our queen. Sitting down to write this was something I've been dreading since my heart, and the heart of the sport, was shattered on Thursday, as I knew it would be one of, if not the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Because like so many others, Sarah meant the world to me, and the love we all felt for her would be impossible to put into words.
After someone so many people care about is taken away, it's common to say that person would have done anything for anyone. But with Sarah it couldn't be more true. It was the truest thing about her. She always put everyone else first, and took so much joy in doing so. She was one of the nicest, friendliest, most caring, genuine and beautiful people I've ever met and had the pleasure of knowing and being friends with, in life. Not just in skiing...in life. In the decade that I've known Sarah, I can't recall a moment when she wasn't smiling, or seemed upset, or angry. It just wasn't who she was. Sarah wasn't capable of having a mean bone in her body, because they were all too full of love.
Over the past few days, much has been said about what Sarah did for women's skiing, and skiing as a whole. And all of it is true. She was, and will always be, every female freeskier's hero and inspiration. She was, and will always be, skiing's superwoman and queen. And there will never be anyone who comes close to her legacy. Without Sarah, women's freeskiing, and freeskiing in general, simply wouldn't be where it is. She helped put the sport on a pedestal that would not have been possible without her hard work and efforts. From her toughing it out with event organizers in the early days to allow her to compete against the boys, and later being the driving force behind establishing a women's division in events like the X Games, to leading the charge in the effort to see halfpipe skiing in the Olympics, Sarah was much more than a fighter. She was a leader.
There are so many negative emotions surrounding her being taken from us. Confusion, anger, sadness, and most of all, grief. But Sarah wouldn't want us to feel any of them. She would want us to continue down the path, shoulder-to-shoulder and hand-in-hand, that she paved for all of us. She would want us to continue to ski as hard as we possibly could, and to continue to have as much fun as we possibly could while doing so, every single day. She would want us to continue to push the sport she helped establish to new heights, and to continue to show the world how amazing freeskiing truly is. And more so than anything, she would want us to continue to love one another, and to continue to love life. Because above all else, Sarah loved life, and everything about it. As a result of that, if I knew you could hear me Sarah, or if you could come back to us for just five seconds, and I was only allowed to say one thing to you, of all the things I would want to say, I would only say this...
Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your smile. Thank for your kindness. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for always being there for everyone around you, during the good times and the bad. Thank you for all the little things you did each and every day that made all of us love life that much more. Thank you for what you did for skiing, and thank you for helping make all of our dreams come true. But most of all Sarah, thank you for your love. Thank you for your love of your family, your friends, your fans, your sport and the love you gave to anyone and everyone who had the utmost pleasure of being in your radiant and heart-warming presence. Although there are no words to properly describe how unfair it is that you were taken from us far too soon, I take some comfort in knowing that you're in a better place, and wherever that place may be, I know that it's better because you're in it, and that you have a piece of all us with you there to help you feel at home.
We'll never stop loving you Sarah. We'll never stop thinking of you, missing you, and being thankful for you. And we will never forget you. Never.
Rest In Peace.
We Love You Sarah - by Drew Lederer
A Tribute To Sarah Burke - by Zac Moxley