“IT’S WHAT OUR LIVES ARE; it’s being on the hill,” said Sarah Burke on the Ski Channel’s feature film Winter. Sitting beside her husband Rory Bushfield, she continued, “It’s amazing. It’s where we met, where we play, where we live,” as Rory finished, “and hopefully where we die.”
Almost by default, once someone — an athlete, adventurer, or even just an individual committed to a certain field like journalism — reaches a certain level, the separation between their work and their life disappears.
While high profile athletes I’ve interviewed rarely, if ever, seem to think in terms of “giving their lives” to a sport (that seems more a notion constructed by those of us around them), there is — as hinted to in Sarah and Rory’s words above — a sense that by virtue of who they are, they simply have no choice but to continue their progressions wherever (and however dangerously) they lead. Being “on the hill” is the only place they’re truly themselves.
Last month Sarah Burke, the most storied female freestyle skier in history, died from injuries sustained in a superpipe training run. In paying tribute to her and the community that supported and loved her, here is a short roundup of those many of us at Matador look up to for having followed their dream as far as they could take it. Respect.