NBC, CBC, CTV, Huffington Post, Canada.com. From news outlets, to professional athletes, to the everyday fan, almost anyone talking about Sarah Burke is talking about the IOC’s controversial decision to ban Sarah Burke stickers at the Sochi Winter Games.
Sarah Burke was a highly talented Canadian Half Pipe skier, even being the first woman to land a 720, 900, and 1080 in competition. Sarah spent her whole career fighting as an advocate for her sport. She lobbied for the inclusion of Women’s Ski Half Pipe at the XGames, and eventually the Olympics. Although the sport wasn’t approved in time for Vancouver 2010, the next year, it was announced that it would be included at Sochi. It is thanks to Sarah and fellow athletes like her that the sport is included at all this year. Unfortunately, in January of 2012, Sarah Burke fell while training and later died of her injuries at the age of 29.
Sarah Burke Tribute at the 2012 Winter XGames
After Sarah passed, athletes of all different disciplines have shown support for their fallen friend. Visually, athletes have shown their support at competitions with Sarah Burke stickers adorning their helmets, skis, and snowboards. The official “#Celebrate Sarah” stickers’ proceeds go to the Sarah Burke Foundation, which continues Sarah’s efforts to support young skiers, and women in the sport.
The news of the IOC’s ban broke early in the Sochi Olympic Games when Australian snowboarder and best friend of Sarah Burke, Torah Bright, explained on Instagram that she was not allowed to wear the sticker but nevertheless she would be riding for Sarah. Torah Bright and Sarah Burke were both Roxy riders, and despite not being able to compete, Sarah supported her friend at the 2010 Olympic Games.
When first hearing the news of the ban, I was definitely appalled by the IOC’s decision. However, sticker or not, the memory of Sarah Burke is all over this Olympic games. Her sport is on the world stage at the largest athletic event. As seen with Torah, a sticker ban has not prevented athletes and officials from making sure the audience knows about Sarah Burke. CBC commentators spoke about Sarah on air during the Women’s Ski Slopestyle. Canadian, Kim Lamarre, used her seconds of airtime at the bottom of the slope to say “Celebrate Sarah!” to the camera. Kim along with the Gold medallist in that event, Canadian Dara Howell, also spoke about Sarah to press after winning. Also, if you look closely at Aussie Anna Segal’s first qualifying run in the same event, you’ll see something special.
The overwhelming support and public outcry for a piece of sticky vinyl shows Sarah’s reach in this Olympic games. Many more have learned about this phenomenal woman and keep her memory with them. The best way to celebrate Sarah is for these athletes to go hardest and do their best, but always with a smile on their face. Watch any of the snowboard or ski Slopestyle and Half Pipe events and you’ll see athletes doing exactly that with the contagious Olympic spirit.
Featured Image by couloir on Flickr