Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke never did reach the Olympics. But her efforts to get her event into the games before dying in a training accident this year have helped her achieve a high honor from her country’s Olympic committee.
Burke will be inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in September, the Canadian Olympic Committee said Tuesday.
Burke, a pioneer of freestyle skiing and a four-time Winter X Games gold medalist, was a major force in getting the ski half pipe event added to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, both the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association and the COC have said.
She was considered a medal contender for the event’s 2014 Olympic debut. But she died at age 29 on January 19, days after falling and rupturing a vertebral artery during a training run at Park City Mountain Resort's superpipe in Utah.
In a statement released by the COC, Burke’s mother, Jan Phelan, said that “Sarah was one of those extraordinary women who believed that anything was possible.”
“I think that her belief not only helped her succeed, but inspired others to be the best they could be. I know that Sarah would be happy that all she worked for and sought to achieve is being honored with her induction into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame,” Phelan said.
Besides her Winter X Games exploits, the Ontario native and British Columbia resident won gold at the 2005 World Championships in Finland and received ESPN’s best female action sports athlete award in 2007. She also was the first woman to land a 1080-degree spin in competition.
Joining Burke on September’s inductee list are the 2010 Canadian men’s hockey team and the 2006 Canadian women’s hockey team, both of which won gold. The inductees also will include Daniel Igali, a 2000 gold medalist in freestyle wrestling; Beckie Scott, a gold and silver medalist in cross country skiing; Jean-Luc Brassard, a 1994 gold medalist in freestyle skiing; and Julie Sauve, Canada’s longtime synchronized swimming coach.
The induction ceremony will take place September 21 at Toronto's Air Canada Centre.