Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke never did reach the Olympics. But her efforts to get her event into the games before dying in a training accident this year have helped her achieve a high honor from her country’s Olympic committee.
Burke will be inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in September, the Canadian Olympic Committee said Tuesday.
Burke, a pioneer of freestyle skiing and a four-time Winter X Games gold medalist, was a major force in getting the ski half pipe event added to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, both the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association and the COC have said.
She was considered a medal contender for the event’s 2014 Olympic debut. But she died at age 29 on January 19, days after falling and rupturing a vertebral artery during a training run at Park City Mountain Resort's superpipe in Utah.
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Three skiers killed in a Washington state avalanche on Sunday were highly experienced at backcountry skiing, according to media reports, and one was the head judge of the Freeskiing World Tour, a competitive circuit for extreme skiers in the United States, Canada and South America.
The three, ski tour judge Jim Jack, Chris Rudolph and John Brenan, were among a group of a dozen or so skiers who were attempting to ski down a slope near the Stevens Pass ski area in the Cascade Mountains, about an 80-mile drive from Seattle. Among the group were staffers of both ESPN and Powder magazine, who identified the victims and gave accounts of the incident.
Powder magazine senior editor John Stifter said the avalanche was triggered by Jack, who was the seventh skier to head down the slope, which is outside the borders of the resort and its groomed ski runs. Jack triggered a “slab avalanche,” according to Stifter.
The U.S. Forest Service’s National Avalanche Center says dry slab avalanches are the most deadly form of avalanches.
Just three weeks ago, Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke was preparing to defend her 2011 Winter X Games ski superpipe gold medal. On Thursday, athletes kicked off the 2012 event without her, memorializing the fallen skier with stickers, ribbons and a torchlit tribute.
Dozens of athletes with torches gathered on the top of a darkened Buttermilk Mountain halfpipe in Aspen, Colorado, and wordlessly skied to the bottom as part of a tribute during ESPN's Winter X Games broadcast Thursday night. Many then embraced Burke's relatives, who were waiting at the bottom.
Burke, a four-time Winter X Games gold medalist credited with getting women's ski halfpipe into the 2014 Winter Olympics, died January 19 as a result of a training accident nine days earlier.
Thursday's tribute on the superpipe was part of a seven-minute segment dedicated to Burke on ESPN. A 90-second video showed performance highlights and old interview clips of the skier.
"She was a superstar with the humility of a rookie," one of ESPN's hosts for the Winter X Games, Sal Masekela, said before the video was shown. "She is the reason that women’s ski pipe is at Winter X, and why it will be in the Olympics in 2014. So if you are looking for her legacy, you will find it in all the faces that you see here tonight, and all those that line halfpipes and come-down mountains around the world for years and years to come."
People in the Northwest are digging out from major storms this week. Some are taking advantage of the fresh powder, but winter sports come with risks. When things go wrong, they can go very wrong. Watch these incredible survival stories from athletes who were caught in avalanches.
Snowmobile scare – A group of buddies in Washington State headed out for a fun day on snowmobiles but got a major scare, instead. One man was caught in an avalanche and was unable to move or breathe under the snow. His friend captured the whole thing on his helmet cam.
[Updated at 4:44 p.m. ET] A Canadian freestyle skier who was seriously injured during practice in Utah last week has died, her family said Thursday in a statement released by her publicist.
Sarah Burke, 29, died Thursday morning at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she had been treated for injuries she suffered during a training run at Park City Mountain Resort's superpipe.
Burke reportedly fell while trying a trick and "whiplashed" onto her side at Park City Mountain Resort's superpipe on January 10, officials have said. She ruptured a vertebral artery in the fall, leading to an intracranial hemorrhage that caused her to go into cardiac arrest at the accident site, according to a statement released by her publicist, Nicole Wool.
Emergency workers gave her CPR at the site, during which time she remained without a pulse or voluntary breathing. She was taken to a hospital, where she was put on life support and underwent successful surgery to repair the artery – one of four major arteries supplying blood to the brain - the next day, according to the statement.
But after the surgery, tests determined she suffered "irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood after cardiac arrest," the statement reads.
The family of freestyle ski champ Sarah Burke canceled a planned news conference Monday as they await the results of further tests on the injured athlete, an official for the University of Utah hospital said.
Burke was critically injured during practice in Utah last week. She had successful surgery Wednesday to repair a vertebral artery tear, which had caused bleeding in her skull, the hospital said.
On Friday, the hospital said there would be a press conference concerning Burke on Monday. But Monday morning that was canceled.
"Late last night, Rory Bushfield, Sarah's husband, and members of her family met with physicians to discuss the results of Sarah's most recent neurological tests and assessments. Based on the information they received, we regret to inform you that they have decided to cancel today's press conference in order for further tests to be conducted this morning and in the coming days," according to an e-mail from hospital spokeswoman Nicole Wool.
A Canadian freestyle skier who was critically injured during practice in Utah this week had successful surgery Wednesday to repair a vertebral artery tear, which had caused bleeding in her skull, a statement released by her publicist said Thursday.
Sarah Burke, 29, still was in critical condition Thursday at University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, two days after her fall during a training run at Park City Mountain Resort's superpipe, according to the statement.
The statement was the first to give details of Burke's injuries. The tear in Burke's artery in her neck, which supplies blood to the brain, caused an intracranial hemorrhage, the statement said.
"With injuries of this type, we need to observe the course of her brain function before making definitive pronouncements about Sarah’s prognosis for recovery," said Dr. William T. Couldwell, who performed Wednesday's surgery and is neurosurgery chair at University of Utah. "Our Neuro Critical Care team will be monitoring her condition and response continuously over the coming hours and days."
[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.”