ASPEN, Colo. -- Canadian skier Roz Groenewoud -- better known in the action sports world as "Roz G" -- won her first Winter X Games gold in the Women's Ski SuperPipe in an emotional final that became a celebration of the memory of Groenewoud's longtime friend and teammate Sarah Burke.
Like most of the skiers in Saturday's competition and many of the other athletes at Winter X Games 2012 this week, Groenewoud wore a red "Sarah" sticker on her helmet in tribute to Burke, the 2011 SuperPipe champion and four-time Winter X Games gold medalist whose death Jan. 19 after a SuperPipe training accident in Park City, Utah, has hung heavy over Winter X Games 2012.
"It means so much," said Groenewoud, tearing up at the base of the SuperPipe at Buttermilk after taking a Run 3 victory lap. "After the tribute for Sarah on Thursday I was just so proud to be a skier. The outpouring of love from the community was just absolutely amazing, and Friday morning in training and all of today I just tried to let all of that love lift me up. It feels so great. I definitely felt like I had Sarah with me. She was my teammate for so long."
Groenewoud beat out Maddie Bowman and Brita Sigourney for the win after posting a score of 93.66 and taking the lead from Bowman in Run 2 with a massive 14-foot safety grab and a run featuring a 900, back-to-back 540s, a left-side 720 and a switch 540 traveling down the pipe. Bowman's Run 2 score of 92.00 held for the silver medal, and Sigourney blasted to third place in Run 3 with 90.66 after landing the only 1080 of the competition.
Groenewoud, a Winter X Games competitor since 2008, previously won bronze in Women's Ski SuperPipe in 2009 and '10. She won the North Face Open at Whistler earlier this month, and was officially named to represent the Canadian national halfpipe team in May 2010 after the news that Ski SuperPipe will be an Olympic medal sport at the 2014 Sochi Games in Russia, where she had planned to compete with Burke as a teammate. Burke has been credited with actively advocating for the sport's inclusion as an athlete ambassador at the Winter X Games, before the International Olympic Committee and at other events, including the Winter Dew Tour.
"I'm gonna miss her forever " Groenewoud said, trailing off as the weight of the moment grew overwhelming after Saturday's competition, before triumphantly concluding " for Sarah!"
Check out full results from the Women's Ski SuperPipe finals.
Colin Bane is a freelance writer who writes for ESPN.com Action Sports.