POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 21, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 1:47 a.m. HST, Feb 21, 2014
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia >> Sarah Burke's parents looked up the hill and saw the halfpipe workers making one last trip down in the formation of a heart.
They looked the other direction and saw the scoreboard: Maddie Bowman of the United States won gold, Marie Martinod of France took silver and Ayana Onozuka of Japan took bronze.
All around them Thursday, Burke's parents saw their late daughter's dreams play out on a crisp, clear night in the mountains above Sochi a night her dad, Gord Burke, called perfect. His daughter had succeeded not only in bringing women's halfpipe skiing to the Olympics, but also to the world.
Far beyond what I thought it would be, said Gord Burke, who traveled to Russia from Toronto and spent the entire night smiling. I never really imagined so much love for one person. So much passion and energy.
Burke was the Canadian freeskiing icon a four-time winner of the Winter X Games who fought hard, first to get women involved in her sport, then to take it to the highest level.
The IOC added halfpipe and slopestyle skiing to the program in 2011. Less than a year later, Burke died after suffering fatal injuries during a training run in the halfpipe. She was 29 and likely would have been the favorite in this event.
This was still her night, and none of the 23 skiers who dropped into the pipe could argue with that.
Including the gold-medal winner, Bowman. The 20-year-old from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., felt like an outsider when she started in the sport and called meeting Burke 'the coolest moment of my life.
The silver medalist, Martinod, quit the sport seven years ago. One day about three years ago, Burke came knocking on her door, telling her she needed to un-retire, because the show was going to the Olympics and she wanted to make sure all the best women were there.
I'm thinking of Sarah every day, said the 29-year-old Frenchwoman, who painted snowflakes on her fingernails to match the tattoo Burke had on her foot. I think I didn't say goodbye to Sarah yet and I still have to do it, and now I feel I'm able to do it because I did what she asked me to do.
Bowman's runs were technically precise and high flying. The winning score of 89 came thanks to one straight-air jump more than 10 feet above the halfpipe, followed by a pair of 900-degree spins, along with two 720-degree spins, one of which she landed backward.
Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska withdrew from competition in response to the deaths of dozens of anti-government protesters in her country.
I don't want to participate when in my countrypeople die, said Matsotska, who was due to enter the slalom competition on Friday.
France swept the podium in the men's skicross, claiming all three medals in a Winter Games event for the first time. Jean Frederic Chapuis won the gold, Arnaud Bovolenta took silver and Jonathan Midol captured bronze.
Norway finished third in the ski jumping and had to start the 20-kilometer race behind. But cross-country ski specialist Mangus Moan made up the deficit on the first leg and Norway outdueled Germany and defending champion Austria in the relay.
Canada's first gold in women's curling came at the expense of Sweden, which had beaten the Canadians for the title in Vancouver four years ago. This time, Canada won 6-3. Britain took the bronze by beating Switzerland 6-5.