Thursday, 19 January 2012
Sarah Burke Dead: Skier Dies After Accident During Training At Park City, Utah
SALT LAKE CITY — Sarah Burke was an X Games star with a grass-roots mentality – a daredevil superpipe skier who understood the risks inherent to her sport and the debt she owed to it.
The pioneering freestyler, who helped get superpipe accepted into the Olympics, died Thursday, nine days after crashing at a training run in Park City, Utah.
Burke, who lived near Whistler in British Columbia, was 29.
Tests revealed she sustained "irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood after cardiac arrest," according to a statement released by Burke's publicist, Nicole Wool, on behalf of the family.
A four-time Winter X Games champion, Burke crashed on the same halfpipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce sustained a traumatic brain injury during a training accident on Dec. 31, 2009.
Wool said Burke's organs and tissues were donated, as she had wanted.
"The family expresses their heartfelt gratitude for the international outpouring of support they have received from all the people Sarah touched," the statement said.
"If the sport got to the point where halfpipe riding became really dangerous, I think riders would do something about it," Burton said. "It wouldn't be cool anymore."
His opinion is shared by many.
"There are inherent risks in everything," Judge said. "Certainly, freestyle skiing has one of the greatest safety records of almost any sport. Freestyle is a very safe sport in large part because we had to build a safe sport in order to get into the Olympics."
In 2009, Burke broke a vertebra in her back after landing awkwardly while competing in slopestyle at the X Games. It was her lobbying that helped get the X Games to include women's slopestyle – where riders shoot down the mountain and over "features" including bumps and rails.
It wasn't her best event, but she felt compelled to compete because she pushed for it.. She came to terms with her injury quickly.
"I've been doing this for long time, 11 years," she said in a 2010 interview. "I've been very lucky with the injuries I've had. It's part of the game. Everybody gets hurt. Looking back on it, I'd probably do the exact same thing again."
She returned a year after that injury and kept going at the highest level, trying the toughest tricks and winning the biggest prizes.
A native of Midland, Ontario, Burke won the ESPY in 2007 as female action sports athlete of the year.
In 2010, she married another freestyle skier, Rory Bushfield, and they were headliners in a documentary film project on the Ski Channel called "Winter."
In her interview with AP two years ago, Burke reflected on the niche she'd carved out in the action-sports world.
"I think we're all doing this, first off, because we love it and want to be the best," she said. "But I also think it would've been a great opportunity, huge for myself and for skiing and for everyone, if we could've gotten into the (Vancouver) Olympics. It's sad. I mean, I'm super lucky to be where I am, but that would've been pretty awesome."