- Associated Press - Saturday, February 22, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - Before the Olympics started, the Canadian freestyle team spread Sarah Burke’s ashes in the halfpipe and around other areas in the mountains above Sochi.

Another tribute they paid to the fallen freeskiing star: all those medals they’re bringing home.

Canada led the world with nine medals at the freestyle events, including four gold.

“Although it was a sad moment, it has created a significant inspiration for us,” said Peter Judge, chief executive of the Canada Freestyle Association.

It’s the culmination of a project that started with Canada’s “Own the Podium” program that pumped more than $110 million into developing winter sports in the advance of the Vancouver Games.

Burke was a big part of the next phase. She pushed hard to get halfpipe and slopestyle skiing into the Olympics. In 2012, less than a year after the sports were added, she died after a training accident.

Nearly everyone competing in the freestyle events dedicated their medals and their moments to her. They were well aware they might not be spending this time in Russia had she not advanced the sport the way she did.

Then, the Canadians took it a step further: They went out and won.

“She’s been remembered in everything around these games,” slopestyle bronze medalist Kim Lamarre of Canada said.

- By Eddie Pells - Twitter https://twitter.com/epells


Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: https://apne.ws/1c3WMiu

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