In 2007, Squamish, B.C.–based freeskier Sarah Burke became the only woman ever to land a 1080 in competition. That same year, she also became the first skier to win an ESPY, for Female Action-Sports Athlete of the Year. After that she won every major park and pipe ski competition in the world, including three gold medals in the Winter X Games superpipe, from 2007 to 2009. The day after her 2009 victory, though, she suffered a serious back injury—cracking her L3 vertebra—in the slopestyle competition and, after a lengthy rehab, barely made the 2010 superpipe finals. At this year's X Games 15, January 27 to 30, she's coming off another injury—a dislocated shoulder suffered in training—but she's confident she'll return to her winning ways and finally convince the world that halfpipe skiing is worthy of an Olympic berth.
BURKE ON ...
The IOC's decision to delay voting on whether to include superpipe in the Olympics until this spring:
I've wanted to compete in the Olympics since I was a kid, when I didn't even know what sport I wanted to compete in. The bottom line is that it looks likes it's going to be in, and I'll just keep focusing on 2014.
Sports whose time has passed (you know who you are):
There are so many sports in the Olympics that are slowly—and sadly, for the people who enjoy them—winding down. I think they need to bring in some new stuff that kids want to do.
Bouncing back from injury:
Last year was just an off year. Having to go from always making the podium to barely making the finals was really disappointing. I'm coming off shoulder surgery now. When I'm cleared to take hits on January 1, though, it's 110 percent.
Her chances this year:
I like the pressure, and I've always had a talent for dialing things in quickly. I learned a backside flair [a backflip with a 180-degree rotation] the day before the X Games and then competed with it, so I'm sure I'll come up with something new.