Late skier Sarah Burke honoured on Flag Day
The late freestyle skier Sarah Burke will be honoured Saturday as part of this year’s National Flag of Canada Day.
The 29-year-old died in January 2012 after a training accident in Utah.
In a statement issued Saturday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he is “deeply honoured to present this symbol of our country to Gordon Burke and Jan Phelan, parents of Sarah Burke, who are accompanied by widower Rory Bushfield.”
“Sarah was a gifted athlete, a trailblazer…She was a great Canadian whose efforts have had a remarkable impact on the world of sport, and whose story has touched the nation,” he added.
Each year on Feb. 15, the flag flying on top of the Peace Tower in Ottawa is given to a Canadian “who has exemplified the values of our country holds most dear,” the statement from Harper said.
A government source told CTV News on Saturday that Burke’s family is currently on its way to Sochi, and the flag will be presented to the family sometime in March. No details were given, however, as to whether or not the ceremony will be a public event.
Before her death, Burke fought hard to have all women’s freestyle skiing events included in the X Games and the Winter Olympics.
Mike Douglas, a friend and mentor to Burke, said that while she “made her name as a skier … her legacy is really built on her qualities as a human being.”
“She was one of those great Canadians that put others before herself and silently sort of fought for what was right and good things to believe in,” Douglas told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
Burke was considered a leading contender for gold at the Sochi Games, having won four gold medals at the Winter X Games and a gold medal at the 2005 halfpipe world championship.
Canadian Dara Howell, gold medalist in the slopestyle event, dedicated her medal to the late skiing star earlier this week. Teammate Kim Lamarre won bronze in the event.
National Flag of Canada day on Feb. 15 began in 1996 and marks the day in 1965 when the Canadian flag was officially raised across the country for the first time.