WHISTLER – The 2014 ‘Spirit of Sarah Scholarship’ has been awarded to 12-year-old Elena Gaskell of Vernon.
Gaskell, the youngest skier to win the award, is a member of the Silver Star Freestyle Ski Club.
She will enjoy a free Full Package Ski Camp with Momentum this summer in Whistler, worth more $2,300. She will be trained and mentored by Olympians and X-Gamers.
Said Gaskell: “I really learned a lot more about Sarah after watching the Olympics this year, from her pioneering efforts to get the sport into the Olympics, to her on-snow achievements of raising the level and bar for women in the sport and I was truly inspired to follow in her footsteps.”
Gaskell says she had heard that Sarah once said: ‘Failures do not exist… some things just take longer to master’ and that really made a strong impression on her. This was Gaskell’s third year of applying for the scholarship and her attitude of not giving up clearly showed her strength of character to the scholarship judges.
Her goal is to compete in the 2018 Olympics, as well as the X-Games and she is already showing great promise by winning the 2014 Junior National Big Air championships and B.C. Slopestyle title this season.
The judging panel, which includes Sarah’s mother, her husband Rory Bushfield, national team oach Trennon Paynter and camp director John Smart, were impressed with Elena’s determination and passion for freestyle skiing, as well as her desire to promote Sarah’s ideals and help other girls in the sport.
On hearing about her prize, Elena said: “I am very honoured to be the winner of this year’s Spirit of Sarah Scholarship. I am so grateful and excited for this opportunity and it means so much to be picked out of this group of girls. Sarah is just such a big inspiration and to be chosen to win a scholarship that is in memory of Sarah, means so much.“
Said Smart: “Elena shows lots of promise. She is a strong and talented, young athlete who loves the sport and shows great determination, so she’s very much like I remember Sarah being at that age. It’s great to see that Elena has been inspired by Sarah and we are happy to help keep Sarah in the minds and hearts of these young skiers as they follow their own dreams.”
The ‘Spirit of Sarah Scholarship’ was created in honour and memory of longtime coach and former camper Sarah Burke, who died in a tragic ski accident in 2012.
One of the causes dear to Burke’s heart was encouraging young girls to follow their dreams and believe in their skiing abilities.
She inspired so many young women through her incredible talent and strength, but more importantly through her demonstration of modesty, kindness and her wonderful approach to life. Sarah was a camper with Momentum for four years and a coach for 11 years.