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Friday, January 20, 2012

Redefining an Industry: Honoring Sarah Burke

Canadian freeskier, Sarah Burke, passed away last night after
battling critical injuries she received from a training crash on Jan. 10. 
Many of you (including myself) knew little-to-nothing about the Canadian freeskier, Sarah Burke, until her recent training crash on January 10th. I'm not trying to be shallow, but honestly much of what I knew about her I feel like was only available because she was in the limelight for being very attractive while being successful. After her accident I obviously watched the news and ESPN to delve deeper into the life of this revolutionary athlete, and that was how I discovered the ways in which she completely redefined the sport she loved.

Burke began skiing at the age of 5, and found an immediate attraction to performing aerial tricks and spins. As a teenager she began to compete in half-pipe and slope-style competitions, but was turned away or forced to compete with the boys because of the lack of women's divisions. After proving that she was more than capable of competing with even some of Canada's best male skiers, she moved on to compete in the Winter X-Games where she would win 4 gold medals and press them to add a division for women's slope-style competition.

Her list of accolades do not end there, however, as Burke was the first skier to win an ESPY athlete of the year award in 2007. She was also was the first woman to ever land a 720, 900, and 1080 at a competition, but perhaps her greatest accomplishment was her campaign to include her sport as an official competition in the Winter Olympics. A campaign that proved to be successful when in 2011 the Winter Olympics Committee announced that the 2014 Winter games would include both half-pipe and slope-style women's skiing competitions.

Unfortunately Burke would never get the opportunity to win an Olympic Gold Medal when she passed away last night at the age of 29, but her legacy will live on through the countless number of women who will now have the opportunity to compete as Olympic athletes in the sport the Burke held so dear to her heart. Those close to Burke, however, would tell you her best qualities were not her skiing prowess, but her humbleness and accessibility. She was always trying to make connections with her fans and spread her knowledge for the sport to aspiring competitors.

Even in death she was trying to impact the lives of those around her, requesting that her usable tissues and organs be donated. I hope I have been able to shed some light on the life of this amazing athlete and even more spectacular human being. Take some lessons from Burke in her remembrance today, and share you life, time, and passion for what you love. Who knows, it might be you that opens the door for great new accomplishments for not only yourself, but more importantly, other people with the same passion.

Click here if you wish to make a donation to Sarah's family to help pay for her costly medical treatment.

-John Jr.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
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