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An Interview with Sarah Burke

The undisputed queen of women’s freeskiing, Sarah Burke, sits down with Skiing to talk about the state of the ski industry, the Winter Dew Tour, dessert and more.
posted: 01/08/2009

Skiing: How long have you been skiing professionally?
Sarah Burke: It’s been a long time. I think I’ve lost track. I started when I was 18 and now I’m 26, so eight years. Last night there was a Freeskier Magazine gathering and I saw all the DEW Tour judges who are all the guys I used to ski with and they were all like “when are you gonna quit?” It’s kind of funny.

Skiing: What has changed in the industry in that time? How have you changed?
SB: I hope I haven’t changed for the worse. I’ve definitely gotten smarter with…everything. I think that happens with everybody as they get older. Hopefully.

Its been funny to see the people come in and out of the ski industry and all the styles -thug, tight pants, etc. and to see how big its gotten from back when it (freeskiing) was just getting started. Philou and those guys were pretty big rock stars, but now you look at Simon (Dumont), Tanner (Hall), T.J. (Schiller), Peter (Olenick) and all those guys and they are really rock stars. They can scoop up those girls pretty fast.

Its crazy. Shawn White is here and has his own bodyguard now. I don’t think every one wants that (hype), but the people who don’t want it that way, don’t have to. It’s really easy to stay out of that. Of course, it’s harder to break into it.

Skiing: What do you think about the Dew Tour’s entry into winter sports?
SB: Its awesome. The Summer Dew Tour is huge and everyone knows it and loves watching it. So it’s a big step to have it come to winter sports. I also think its awesome to combine skiers and snowboarders together. We are all friends and it’s nice to have competitions together.

Skiing: What do you think about the tour format as opposed to the one-shot events, like X Games?
SB: I think you need both formats. X Games is so prestigious and its nice to have the one shot, big event where you are crowned that on the spot but with the tour its nice because you have three spots, three chances. You could be the overall champion; you can do badly at one, and then blow up at the next.

Skiing: Of the new crop of skiers, who are the ones to watch this year?
SB: Justin Dorey, he’s a Canadian kid who has been killing it in the pipe and a really hard worker. He’s been doing all kinds of new tricks.

Of the girls, in Slope, Anna Seigel and Kaya Turski are really pushing new tricks for girls. And in halfpipe, Ros G has always had good technique and now she is starting to get the height so she is one to keep an eye on for sure.

Skiing: How does it feel to have everyone in the ski industry say you are the woman to watch this season?
SB: I don’t know. Its super nice to hear. I called my mom today to tell her about something I read in Freeskier and we both just said how nice it is to actually hear stuff like that. It’s very flattering.

Skiing: Besides comps, what are your big plans for this winter?
SB: I haven’t worked out my entire winter schedule yet. I really want to ski more powder and maybe a little less competitions this winter. I did a whole lot of that last year. It was fun, but I’d like to do a little more skiing.

Skiing: Do you get many chances to ski for fun?
SB: I haven’t just skied for myself without a camera or photo shoot or training for two years until this summer when I had a chance to ski in New Zealand for a week without any obligations. I’d like to do a little more of that. Even when I am training, I am still having fun, there’s just a little more pressure.

Skiing: Do you have any other new projects in the works?
SB: We do a girls camp called Progression Ski Camps. We are going to hold it this year in conjunction with WSI in Whistler.

Skiing: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
SB: Winning the X Games in 2007. I had gotten silver the two previous years and it was something I had been pushing for and fighting for so long to get it in, it was something I wanted so badly for so many years.

Skiing: Is there anything you are really into at the moment?
SB: My house. I bought a house last year in Squamish, BC and started tearing it up in May. My boyfriend (skier Rory Bushfield) and I are doing all the remodeling ourselves so its taken 4-5 months to finish the kitchen.

Skiing: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your lift, what would it be?
SB: Dessert.

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