SOCHI, Russia — Canadian freestyle skiers Dara Howell and Kim Lamarre went gold and bronze on the podium Tuesday in women's slopestyle. But it was the Canadian skier who wasn't there that was on everyone's mind.
Sarah Burke, one of the leading voices in the push for slopestyle to be in the Olympics, died in a training accident two years ago.
The close-knit international ski community wanted to pay tribute to her in some way. It suggested wearing helmet stickers. The International Olympic Committee said no.
That decision couldn't stop people from talking about it, though.
"I've been feeling her all week," Lamarre said. "She carried me through my qualification. Then I fell on my first run in the final.
"Right before I dropped in, I looked up, 'Sarah, let's do this together.' When I landed, 'Sarah we did it.' I could not be more happy to celebrate her in such a big way."
A different kind of celebration came from 20-year-old Devin Logan of the U.S., who won the silver medal.
The rightful star of Tuesday's competition at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park was Howell. Some experts called her first run, with a score of 94.20, one of the best performances ever in a sport in its Olympic infancy.
"Dara had the sickest run today," Logan said. "She killed it."
American skiers Keri Herman and Julia Krass were 10th and 11th, respectively.
Yuki Tsubota, a teammate of Howell and Lamarre, suffered the worst crash of the afternoon and was taken off the course on a stretcher. Tsubota went down hard near the end of her second run in the final and was taken to the hospital. A Canadian press officer later said she possibly has a broken jaw.
The slopestyle course came under a rash of early criticism from the snowboarders and skiers. Tuesday was warmer on the mountain, which did not help the conditions, creating "mushy" landings.
"I just took it as a spring day," said Logan, whose best score, 85.40, came in the first run. "Conditions could have been a little better. … That's what happens. You can't control Mother Nature."
Logan blew out her knee at an event in New Zealand in 2012 and missed the rest of the 2012-13 season, rehabbed and even helped out as a judge at slopestyle events.
"Of course, if I hurt myself I have to do it all," Logan said. "It's always a bummer when you get taken out for a full season. You're mad, you're upset. You think about it a little: Why am I doing this to myself and my body? But when you're two months out, you just want to go skiing."
Her mother, Nancy, was on hand for the silver-medal moment.
Logan is the youngest of five children and the road to Russia was far from easy.
"Mom and dad, they were divorced when I was young," she said. "We went through everything. Dad lost his job, money problems, all that. But the support they've given me over time, skiing since I was 2 years old.
"…[My family] made me the person I am. I'm so happy, hopefully they're happy for me."
As for the future?
"I'm probably going to go home and get a new tattoo," Logan said. "My mom's not too happy to hear about that one … and it's not the Olympic rings."
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