Freestyle ski champ still critical after surgery
Sarah Burke, 28, suffered serious injuries in a fall during training at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah.
January 12th, 2012
01:33 PM ET

Freestyle ski champ still critical after surgery

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."

Burke reportedly fell while trying a trick and "whiplashed" onto her side at Park City Mountain Resort's superpipe on Tuesday, officials have said. Resort spokesman Andy Miller said she was treated at the scene before being flown by helicopter to the hospital.

Her husband, Rory Bushfield, and other members of her family are with her in the hospital, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association said.

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 the ski halfpipe event added to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Peter Judge, CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, said Wednesday.

Dr. Edward Aulisi, chief of neurosurgery at the Washington Hospital Center in the nation's capitol, said the type of injury that Burke sustained isn't uncommon. "We see it frequently in car accidents here," he said.

Aulisi, who isn't involved in Burke's care, said her surgery will have been done to prevent further damage from occurring.

Burke's family is grateful for support coming from people around the globe, according to Thursday's statement. People have flooded Burke's Facebook page with messages of support since Tuesday's fall.

The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association has said that it did not have any word on specifically what caused 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.

soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. Mary Wilson

    Seriously, all everyone cares about is who will pay for her health care? Does anyone actually care about her health, the fact that she could die, or never continue to persue her passion. It was a freak accident and could have happened to anyone. She was a pioneer for this sport and made it possible for other women to compete. I applaude her and wish her the best of recoveries. Shame on you who speak otherwise.

    January 13, 2012 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Julia

    Just reading well wishes for our Canadian athlete her, I am sure she is getting great care in the USA but do not doubt it for one minute she would get it here too, we do not have socialist Heath care in Canada we all pay $ 129.00 a month for a family and our taxes on alcohol and tabacco pays the rest, and I am sure the Canadian ski association will have her bill down in the USA, she will not have to sell her house or go bankrupt like some Americans do to pay there medical bills.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    Seriously? She won multiple gold metals for freestyle around the world and not performing a new trick when she wrecked. Accidents happen and even the best in the world have them. You telling me you've never tripped while walking and you've been doing that most of your life.

    January 13, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  4. owen

    F! her.... F!

    January 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Freeman

    Sarah, my best wishes for the total recovery.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Disabled at 41 in Memphis

    Best wishes for a full and fast recovery, Sarah! You're young, otherwise healthy, and strong, and that's all working in your favor. You'll be in my and many, many more people's prayers. God bless you, your family, and your healthcare team.

    January 17, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4