When the Olympics first began in Sochi, the IOC refused to allow athletes to commemorate the dead. Most notably, officials told halfpipe skiers they could not wear patches or stickers in honor of Canadian skier Sarah Burke, who died two years ago while training in Utah. Her former coach, Trennon Paynter, however, was able to honor Burke by scattering her ashes on the halfpipe. How'd he manage it? He just didn't tell anyone he was going to do it.
Paynter has been travelling with the ashes all year. He and Burke's husband, Rory, agreed to take the remains to Sochi and planned in secret to honor her with more than just stickers. By the time they were done, Burke's remains had taken a ride down the halfpipe and were scattered throughout Sochi. It was their "stealth mission."
Shortly after practice began, Paynter — a former competitive rider — tucked Burke inside his jacket and brought his board up to the course.
"I managed to poach a couple of pipe laps," Paynter said. "I know Sarah wanted to get some hits in the pipe."
Before competition started, Paynter trekked up to the course by himself. There are metal detectors everywhere here. How did he get the cylinder through security?
"I'm sneaky," Paynter said.
Paynter walked the football-field length of the pipe alone. He went up and down several times. Every once in a while, he would spread some ashes.
Burke's ashes were also scattered at the very top of the mountain and near the Olympic rings in Rosa Khutor during a team photo.
Photo credit: Getty Images
Sarah Burke's remains spread on the Sochi halfpipe [Toronto Star]