Remembering Sarah Burke — Torah Bright
I actually met Rory first, when I was 15 in Australia. So I knew of Sarah, but I didn’t meet her until we started working together with Roxy.
I had heard that she was an incredible skier and that she was the sweetest, kindest person you’d ever met. And then of course you hear the boys talk about how cute she is. Yup, that’s what I heard about Sarah Burke.
It didn’t take long to start a friendship because she’s just so easygoing and lovable and gets along with everybody. She’s very accepting of every different kind of person.
She worked hard, never complained. She made it fun, though. Whenever she was going to be on a shoot, I was especially excited, even though she wasn’t a snowboarder. I loved it.
It didn’t matter how much time passed, we’d stay connected, especially during contest season when we weren’t necessarily at the same events together. But no matter how much time passed, when we saw each other it was as if no time had gone by. That’s when you know there are true friendships and a true connection. I feel like she had that with many, many people. She was very easy to connect with.
I was drawn to her spirit, her kind, sweet face and that smile of hers. I don’t know, she’s just contagious. People are drawn to her. Her spirit is beautiful, and she’s kind and gracious. She’d do anything for anyone.
She was always there trying to rally for women, something she continued to do throughout her whole career. Even outside of the industry, she was always giving back too, which is a really special thing.
[My connection with Sarah] is something I can’t really explain. I almost felt like I could be the way I would be around my own sisters with Sarah. It was just fun and goofy, and we had so many fun times, an absolute joy, whether we were on the mountain or in New York or at an event together.
Sarah was the best dancer. She really does bring the party. She’s down to dance at any moment, and we loved that. Some of my fondest memories are of dancing with her.
The first time I went to the bar with her was in New Zealand. She taught me how to break glasses on the floor. She told me it was fun.
Professionally, she was always wanting to be the best, and that was inspirational to me. That and she definitely offered words of wisdom over the years that made me buck up and get the job done.
Personally, she touched my life. I’m extremely grateful to have been able to call her a friend, and my life is forever changed by knowing her. I was completely shaken to my core [after the accident]. It wasn’t until a few days later that I was even able to think about my snowboarding, and I was terrified. I had all these thoughts going through my head, like, “Is it worth it?” You know? But once that initial period passes and you get your head around life again—we do these sports because we love them. We all know the risks. We need to live our lives and not live in fear. And I think that’s exactly what Sarah would be saying, “Don’t be fearful, just live.”
Sarah made such a strong connection with the mountain. You’ll hear people say that they felt her with them that day, at the end of the contest or what not. And I think it’s because of that strong connection that we do all feel her and think about her up there. The mountain was so much a part of her life and her love. I think that’s a special thing.
Sarah definitely lived life. I want to live a full, exciting life and not regret anything. Sarah did that and enjoyed every bit of it and helped everyone else enjoy what they were doing too. I think with that passion for life, she connected with a lot of people, and everybody that has known her is better for having been a part of that connection. I know I am.
It’s hard to be able to do her justice in words, really. She was the best part of every personality that you can have. She was sweet but she was fierce and determined.
So kind, so loving. She was just incredible. For me when I think of her, I think of her big smile and the friendship we had and the fun we had. She was just so joyful to be around.
— Torah Bright: Professional Snowboarder, Olympic medalist
About the author:
Freeskier Magazine—This is skiing.