A week before the Winter X Games were going to kick off in Aspen, Colorado, freeskiing legend Sarah Burke passed away in a Salt Lake City hospital. She was 29.
To say that Burke left her mark on the X Games would be an understatement. She won four gold medals in X Games competition, redefining the Superpipe event in the process. She also dedicated herself to making superpipe freeskiing an Olympic sport, and ultimately succeeded. It will make its debut at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
It was obvious as soon as Burke passed that X Games organizers were going to have to do something special to honor Burke's memory. They did, and they delivered in a big way.
If you missed the tribute to Burke at Thursday's proceedings, you can watch it in the above video clip, which comes courtesy of the X Games' official YouTube account. Suffice it to say it's a very moving tribute.
The tribute starts with a video highlight reel that features some of Burke's greatest exploits at the X Games, but it also takes plenty of time to show just what kind of person Burke was. It's a little on the sappy side, but it's also sincere. The Burke portrayed in the video is the real Sarah Burke.
The best part of the tribute came after the video. The lights over the Superpipe were shut off, and a procession of skiers and snowboards slowly made their way down the center with electric torches in their hands. They proceeded in silence, not speaking a word.
The whole thing lasted just a couple of minutes, but there wasn't a dry eye in the house by the time it was over.
Burke is not going to be forgotten by the winter sports community or its myriad of fans. She looms large in her sport's history, and she deserves to be remembered as one of the most influential people of her time.
She will be missed.