Canada freestyle skier Sarah Burke dies

 

Peter Judge, Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, on Sarah Burke's death. Ski footage courtesy The Ski Channel

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Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke has died from injuries sustained in a training accident.

Burke, 29, helped bring freestyle skiing events to the Winter Olympics, and was considered a gold medal contender for the 2014 Games.

She was injured in a superpipe accident at Park City in the US state of Utah on 11 January.

Tests showed the freestyle skier had sustained "irreversible damage to her brain", a family spokeswoman said.

'Defining skier'
Sarah Burke celebrates after winning the ladies halfpipe freestyle FIS World Cup Grand Finals 2008 in Chiesa Valmalenco 12 March 2008 Sarah Burke helped to raise the profile of freestyle skiing into the Olympic Games

Burke, the four-time Winter X Games champion, crashed on the same superpipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury during a training accident in late 2009.

The best-known athlete in her sport, Burke specialised in skiing the superpipe - a version of a traditional halfpipe with walls over 5m (16ft) high.

"Sarah, in many ways, defines the sport,'' Peter Judge, chief executive of Canada's freestyle team, said before she died.

"She's been involved since the very, very early days as one of the first people to bring skis into the pipe."

"She's also been very dedicated in trying to define her sport but not define herself by winning. For her, it's been about making herself the best she can be rather than comparing herself to other people.''

'Inherent risks'

A native of Midland, Ontario, Burke won was named female action sports athlete of the year by TV network ESPN in 2007.

Burke tore her vertebral artery as a result of the fall, which led to severe bleeding on the brain. That caused her to go into cardiac arrest on the scene, where CPR was performed.

"The family expresses their heartfelt gratitude for the international outpouring of support they have received from all the people Sarah touched,'' Nicole Wool, her spokeswoman said.

Burke's organs and tissues were donated as per her wishes.

The sport's leaders defend the safety record of the superpipe and other freestyle events, pointing to requirements for mandatory helmet use, air bags on the sides of pipes during practice and better pipe-building technology.

"There are inherent risks in everything,'' Mr Judge said prior to her death.

"Freestyle is a very safe sport in large part because we had to build a safe sport in order to get into the Olympics.''

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 88.

    Minerve - do not speak for me, or put yourself as a voice for the majority of people in the UK. I doubt you know more than 30 people enough to know if they are interested or not.

    She's a pioneer in her sport and worked hard to improve it. I looked forward to seeing her in the Olympics, her skill was fantastic. This is a tragic accident, which all sports can suffer and she will be deeply missed.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 87.

    A sad piece of news.

    Also, Minerve clearly wishes merely to promote a response and I feel pity that her day is so lacking that he/she feels the need to undermine a sad passing - even if you think it doesn't deserve the recognition it has got is there no humanity that can make you feel remorse for such an event? Wise up.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 86.

    #83 You're right, it's not of interest to most viewers. But then the majority of people would simpy ignore it or, if they really felt upset enough to complain about it, would find some other method to do so.

    By continuing to post, you continue to show your lack of respect, your lack of tact, and your lack of decency.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 85.

    @Minerve she won her first gold medal in 2005 and has won 5 in total. She had years left in her and would have won more. She was more than just a champion, she pioneered the sport.

    And yes, the deaths of sewing champions should be reported, as soon as tens of thousands of people follow it and they start giving out olympic medals.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 84.

    @83, You'll be please to know it's no longer on the front page, however it is number 1 in the most read list of articles so it is clearly of interest to a lot of BBC website viewers.

    I didn't even know this sport existed, but it is a sad loss and it is interesting when a news article leads you to learn about something new.

 

Comments 5 of 88

 

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