Hilden athlete earns first Sarah Burke scholarship to summer camp
Hilden freestyle skier Emma Stevens is the first winner of the Spirit of Sarah scholarship, a week-long stay next month at Momentum Ski Camps in Whistler, B.C. Stevens will attend girls week, featuring specifically designed training and activities to help young girls develop. See page 14. Matt Veno - Truro Daily News
HILDEN - Emma Stevens sat, almost paralyzed, unable to open the new email on the screen.
It was from Momentum Ski Camps regarding the contest she had entered to win the first Spirit of Sarah scholarship, a week-long stay at the Whistler, B.C. camp in memory of the late Sarah Burke, a World Championship and X Games gold medalist in freestyle skiing.
Burke was her idol. Had she gotten in? What if she didn't? It would be devastating.
After about 10 minutes, Stevens finally gathered the courage to open it.
The message told her she had won.
"It's unbelievable," the 16-year-old Hilden resident said. "I've been on this perma-high since I found out. It's so exciting."
Stevens will attend the camp July 6 to 14 during girls week, featuring specifically designed training and activities to help young girls develop. Aside from working with some of the best coaches in the world on skill development with both snow and water ramps, Stevens will get tips on trampoline and dryland training, make a video/photo portfolio, get sponsor prizes and take part in off-mountain activities like beach days, movie nights, manicures and yoga.
Burke, who died in a training accident in Utah earlier this year, was instrumental in starting the special week at the camp and the scholarship is given to the female skier who best embodies Burke's strengths and characteristics.
"Oh, this means the world to me," Stevens said. "It's such an honour to be respected enough to be picked by her family and for them to see me as somebody who could potentially have the ability to follow in her footsteps."
Her coach, Thor Durning, feels Stevens is more than deserving of the honour.
"I've met a lot of female freestyle skiers over the last five years," he said. "Emma fits Sarah's spirit to a T. She's so much about the sport and taking herself to new heights and being a role model for skiers across the country. I can't think of anybody more deserving."
Being selected for the camp is the highlight of a young career that's seen Stevens represent her province at the 2011 Canada Games and become a medalist several times over at the Canadian championships since she started competing in 2007.
It could also be a huge step toward achieving her goals of competing for Canada at the Olympics and going for gold at the X Games.
"It's a massive step forward for her," Durning said. "I can't overstate how huge it is."
It's also significant for Stevens because of Burke's influence on her life and the fact that she is the first winner of the award.
"I followed everything she did and watched all of her videos," Stevens said of Burke. "She was an inspiration for me."
So much an inspiration the sport has consumed every part of Stevens' life. It's all she thinks about. She and her brother Charles, with the help of friends, built a 20-foot wooden ramp in their backyard - complete with grinding rails - to practice on. She competes on the Wentworth freestyle team and trains year round. Currently she trains on a trampoline and works out in the gym six to seven times per week and will be travelling to Quebec several times throughout the summer to practice on water ramps.
"It's the best thing in my life," she said. "I love everything about it. The individual aspect of it, the adrenaline of it, flying through the air, everything about it is so awesome."