Updated: Tuesday, 11 February 2014 20:51 | By Agence France-Presse

Canada's Howell dedicates slopestyle gold to dead teammate

Dara Howell of Canada produced a stunning run to take Olympic women's freestyle skiing slopestyle gold Tuesday and then dedicated her win to a dead teammate.


Canada's Howell dedicates slopestyle gold to dead teammate

Canada's Dara Howell celebrates after winning the women's freestyle skiing slopestyle event at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics, on February 11, 2014 - by Franck Fife

Sarah Burke was one of the pioneers of the superpipe event and lobbied tirelessly to have slopestyle included on the Olympic programme.

But the Canadian died in a superpipe -- that discipline is not on the Olympic programme -- accident in Utah two years ago at just 29 years of age.

"I said the other day that I really hope a Canadian brings home a gold medal and it will be for Sarah," the champion said.

"This medal is definitely for Sarah, she pushed the sport so much, she always wanted to see the progression and to see girls throwing kinda what the guys were throwing.

"She always had a smile on her face and loved what she did. Today I feel like that's what I did (brought home the gold for Burke)."

A reminder of how dangerous this sport can be came during the second run in the final when another Canadian, Yuki Tsubota suffered a horrible crash and had to be stretchered off the course.

On the final jump she failed to get the distance required to get over the lip of the slope and hit the top with a shuddering impact.

However, Canadian freestyle skiing team leader Peter Judge revealed she had suffered only a jaw injury.

"We're having her jaw assessed, she's at the hospital right now," he said. 

"She's sustained some kind of a jaw injury, she's in getting X-ray and a CAT scan, but no concussion. Everything else is good. We're just concerned about the jaw and getting that checked out."

Howell, the world championship silver medallist, won with an incredible score of 94.20 points on her first run with no-one else getting close to it.

Devin Logan of the US took silver with 85.40, and Canada's Kim Lamarre won bronze just 0.40 behind.

But it was a mixed day for the Canadians.

Apart from Tsubota's crash, world champion and favourite Kaya Turski failed to even make the final after going down on both her runs in the qualification heats.

She finished a lowly 19th out of 22 competitors after making mistakes on both runs.

"They were just two separate mistakes. I just didn't have much confidence going into the first run," she said. 

"The second run was going alright, not my best, but then I just hit a bump and overdid it. It just happened."

The danger element of the extreme winter sports -- snowboarding and freestyle skiing -- was highlighted by complaints about the halfpipe course at Extreme Park.

Australian Torah Bright branded the pipe constructors as "not the greatest at their craft" while her coach and brother Ben Bright called the pipe "retarded".

Even reigning double halfpipe champion Shaun White complained it was "far from perfect", despite his US teammate Danny Davis saying the snowboard legend was one of the few people "making it work".

The slopestyle course had also come in for criticism before the snowboard events on it at the weekend following a series of crashes that saw Norway's medal contender Torstein Horgmo break his collarbone.

White, who hurt his wrist and ankle in a training crash, didn't want to take the risk on the slopestyle course and pulled out of the competition before it began.

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