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Canadian ski icon Sarah Burke's ashes spread at Sochi halfpipe

By Jerry Hinnen | Staff Writer

Canadian ski coach Trennon Paynter remembers Sarah Burke at the 2012 X-Games. (Getty Images)
Canadian ski coach Trennon Paynter remembers Sarah Burke at the 2012 X-Games. (Getty Images)
The IOC raised the hackles of more than a few members of the freestyle skiing community -- particularly north of the border -- with its ruling that athletes in Sochi could not memorialize late Canadian freeskiing icon Sarah Burke with helmet stickers or other uniform tributes.

But as the Toronto Star reports in a must-read story, Burke's former coach Trennon Paynter has found a different -- and maybe even more special -- way to remember Burke, bringing her ashes to Sochi and spreading them at various sites, including the halfpipe and the Rosa Khutor mountaintop.

Burke was insturmental in convincing the IOC to add the freeskiing halfpipe to the Olympic program. She died after a training acident in Utah in 2012, and likely would have been one of the medal contenders in Sochi.

All of which helped motivate Paynter, who told the Star he made it his "stealth mission" to ride the Sochi halfpipe with Burke's ashes inside his jacket.

"I managed to poach a couple of pipe laps,” Paynter said. “I know Sarah wanted to get some hits in the pipe."

"It was, for one, a very sort of private personal moment so we didn't want to make any noise about it in advance. It's probably not entirely following all the rules, but it was something we were going to make happen, regardless,” Paynter told Canada.com. "And I know that we're certainly not alone [as Canadians] in feeling that the debut of ski halfpipe at the Olympics was so much about Sarah. Every other competitor from every other nation in halfpipe skiing feels the same."

Other private memorials were held among the Canadian freeskiiers and snowboarders, and American Maddie Bowman -- the first-ever Olympic gold medalist in the women's ski halfpipe -- paid tribute to Burke on the podium.

"Sarah Burke is watching over us tonight, and we just want to honor her as much as we can," Bowman said.

It's safe to say that Paynter's gesture has done the same as well.

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