Words: John Stifter
When Rory Bushfield hopped down from the stage to light a string of candles that eventually illuminated the entire Whistler Village Square, the spirit of the late Sarah Burke was, undoubtedly, glowing.
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, April 10, a private memorial was held at the Blackcomb halfpipe, where three helicopters flew overhead in tribute formation before one broke away in honor of Sarah. What followed was a creative free for all in the pipe, as Bushfield threw a nine and several others dropped in performing various stunts with Sarah’s original style in mind. Later in the evening, family, friends, and the public gathered in the Whistler Village Square for a touching memorial. From past, current, and soon-to-be pros to vacationing tourists, everyone present watched a slideshow video of the Ontario-born Burke set to a “Forever Young” remix. What followed was a litany of emotional yet poised speeches by the likes of Sarah’s father, childhood and Whistler friends, Trennon Paynter, John Smart of Momentum Ski Camps, Josh Bibby, Grete Eliassen, Mike Douglas, and Bushfield. They each celebrated the tremendous affect Sarah had on each of their lives and spoke to each segment of Burke’s impact from family and friends to ski summer camp kids. Concluding the wonderful production, Sarah’s mother and sister played the guitar and piano, respectively, before emcee Luke Van Valin led all in attendance in a life-altering howl of thanks for one of the most influential skier and human to grace our lives. Even if those there in the Square had never met Sarah, her matchless verve for life and skiing was and is felt by all.
“A light will never go out when you light a thousand more” scrolled across the massive video screen. Before leaving the stage after his composed remembrance of his wife, Bushfield reminded us that Sarah lived with three life tenants always in mind and heart: laugh, love, and dance. Certainly, Sarah and her smiley spirit will be here in us so that we can continue to light up many more Squares of all shapes and sizes. Just be sure to dance.
Powder would like to thank Rory Bushfield, his sister, and Whistler/Blackcomb for hosting such a special event.