Words: Heather Hansman
On Monday, Momentum Camps announced the first winner of the 'Spirit of Sarah' scholarship. A panel of judges, including Sarah's parents and Rory Bushfield, picked 16-year-old Emma Stevens, from Nova Scotia, as the first recipient of a free camp session.
Stevens says she's honored, because Momentum chose her, because Burke was such an important influence on her.
"I feel that Sarah made it possible for me to be recognized as a strong skier first and not just another girl that skis," she said.
Camp Director John Smart says they chose Stevens out of the 30 applicants because she's won two junior national championships and wouldn't have been able to afford the camp on her own. Most importantly, he thinks Stevens embodies Burke's spirit.
"She has the talent, but she also seems to embody so many of Sarah's traits," he says.
Burke first went to Momentum when she was 14. When she got too old to be a camper, Smart immediately asked her to coach, which she did for the next 11 years. Smart says she was one of the best coaches Momentum had, enthusiastic and unflagging.
"She loved it as a camper and she never lost that love," he says. Smart hopes Stevens and other future scholarship winners keep up that feedback loop. Ideally, they'll have successful skiing careers, then come back to coach. "We want to create that circle. If she comes back as a coach, she fits that lifestyle we create."
Stevens will go to Momentum for Girl's Week, a program Burke spearheaded. Smart says the camp has more girls than they've ever had before, and most are in the freestyle program instead of the moguls camp, a change that would have made Burke happy. "Sarah's mission was to push girls in the sport, so now we try to push the sport for Sarah," says Smart.
Read more about Sarah's influence in the first issue of POWDER, out August 15th.