Reports: Freestyle ski champ remains in coma after fall
Sarah Burke shows off her gold medal after winning the Women's Skiing Superpipe at Winter X Games in Colorado, in 2009.
January 11th, 2012
04:21 PM ET

Reports: Freestyle ski champ remains in coma after fall

[Updated at 4:21 p.m. ET] Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke remains in critical condition a day after suffering a serious fall during a training run in Park City, Utah, according to the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.

Local media reports said she had been in a coma in a Salt Lake City hospital.

“Sarah sustained serious injuries and remains intubated and sedated in critical condition,” Safdar Ansari, a neurointensivist with University of Utah Health Care, said in a statement released by the Canadian Freestyle organization.

Hospital officials declined to give further details on her condition.

Burke, 28, reportedly fell after completing a trick on the superpipe at the Park City Mountain Resort and "whiplashed" on to her side, officials said. The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association said they couldn't be sure exactly what happened just yet. A resort spokesman said she sustained a serious injury and was taken by helicopter to the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City.

The star's husband, Rory Bushfield, and other members of her family are with her in the hospital, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.

“Sarah is a very strong young woman and she will most certainly fight to recover,” Bushfield said in a statement.

The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association said that it did not have any word on specifically what happened to cause the injury but that it was told Burke wasn't doing any new tricks or anything out of the ordinary at the time of the incident.

News of her injury was weighing heavily not just on her family and friends but on the entire industry, the association said.

“We’re a bit shell-shocked right now,” Peter Judge, CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, told the Toronto Star. “It’s tough to read. The signs are dramatic and catastrophic, but it’s hard to gauge how dramatic and catastrophic. The same treatment and symptoms can be on a broad scale.”

Burke, a native of Ontario who now lives in British Columbia, was 11th in the Association of Freeskiing Professionals overall rankings last year. She has won four gold medals in the Winter X Games, the event she was training for at the time of Tuesday's accident. She also won gold at the 2005 world championships in Finland and in 2007 received ESPN’s Best Female Action Sports Athlete.

Burke is considered a pioneer of freestyle skiing and was a major force in getting it added to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Judge said.

"She was a very eloquent spokesperson, and she continued to always be out and speak well for her sport and represent it well," Judge said. "As an athlete, that's the most important thing."

Judge said the entire sport was thinking of her and praying for the best for the woman who had has essentially become the face of the sport as well as the top female halfpipe athlete.

"She's been involved since the very, very early days," Judge said. "She was one of the first to get into the pipe and bring skis into the sport."

Judge said he didn't think the potentially devastating injury would damage the reputation of a sport that had just been added to the Olympic lineup.

"I think the sport in general is extremely safe. Obviously, there are inherent risks in any sport," he said. "Safety and athlete safety is one of the things that is paramount within our sport."

He added that often, because of the perceived dangers, the sport goes above and beyond to ensure safety. He said there hadn't been a major freestyle incident in nearly 35 years.

Still, Judge said, they would be looking at what happened to cause the accident to see whether anything needed to be reexamined.

"When there's an injury, you always do a full audit to understand what the root cause is and whether you can make anything safer," Judge said.

Right now, Judge said, the immediate focus is on doing everything possible to support Burke.

"She is an incredibly resilient and strong young woman, and we are hoping she will draw on that strength at this time," he said. "Our thoughts are with her and her family at this time.”

soundoff (336 Responses)
  1. Bob

    And some more idiots that just jump down and post hateful comments. Praying for you Sarah

    January 12, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Raka

    CNN post continue to inform America just how mean and racist liberals are.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • SealFromHell

      Written like a true conservative troll..........

      January 13, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. just a guy

    Some of you people are vile human beings a person is seriosly injured in coma and these are the type of comments left I hope your loved ones are killed or injured and the trolls here have harsh words for you and your red neck cousin lovin families

    January 12, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • templeton

      CAN YOU SAY HYPOCRITE! Why are you so concerned what other people say???

      January 12, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Chester

      Um, templeton, it would appear that you've just contradicted yourself.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. DonDon

    Please explain where you got that she was on drugs when this occured or any other time for that matter?? You and Ole Grandad were probably responsible for Bush getting two terms in office I bet.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Chester

    "Ski champ in a coma".......isn't that a Smith's song?

    January 12, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • I know, I know, it's serious

      omg you are SO wrong, but SO funny! lmao.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mark

    Sports are too dangerous for women.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • George Hilbert

      You might be right. Actress Natasha Richardson (wife of Liam Neeson) died of an epidural hematoma in 2009 during a skiing lesson when she fell. No one suspected that such a gentle fall could have caused such cranial bleeding. It is said that she could have been saved had she been taken to a hospital right away.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • JPX

      That's a silly thing to say. Sports are no more or less dangerous than they are for men.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      MCP much?

      January 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. flam455

    hope she gets better.Always resist temptation to be mean anonymously.-always

    January 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. JPX

    Prayers" won't help this woman, good medical science will. If she comes out of this coma don't attribute it to a magical man in the sky, thank the doctors who went to school and learned science. If she dies you can thank the magical man in the sky for being such a jerk.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chartreuxe

      Looking for a jerk? Check the mirror.

      January 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jeannie 807

    Why am I not surprised? – it's a dangerous sport – but it's her life and she can do what she wants with it. She sure looks happy in the photo.

    January 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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