Canadian Skier Burke Dies from Superpipe Accident Injuries

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Sarah Burke, Canadian freestyle skier, died on Thursday, nine days after she crashed at the bottom of the superpipe while training in Utah.

The 29-year-old lived near Whistler in British Columbia, and was injured on January 10 during training at the Park City Mountain resort in a personal sponsor event.

Burke’s publicist released a statement that indicated hospital tests showing Burke sustaining irreversible damage to the brain caused by lack of blood and oxygen after cardiac arrest.

The four-time champion for the Winter X Games had her crash on the same halfpipe where Kevin Pearce, a snowboarder, also had an accident during training back in December 31, 2009, which resulted in a traumatic brain injury.

With the fall, Burke’s vertebral artery tore, resulting in severe brain bleeding and a subsequent cardiac arrest right on the scene, expressed publicist Nicole Wool. Right at the scene, CPR was then performed on Burke.

Wool also said that Burke’s tissues and organs have been donated according to her wishes.

The statement also added that the family expressed heartfelt gratitude for the support that poured in internationally from all those whom Burke had touched.

Burke had been the best-known athlete in the sport and will definitely be remembered for her legacy in women’s freestyle skiing.

Skiing in the superpipe, for which Burke set the standard, is a sister sport of the better-known snowboarding brand that turned Hannah Teter, Shaun White and others into celebrities.

Considering the big role that the Olympics played in encouraging the Whites from the sidelines to the mainstream, Burke pushed to include superpipe skiing to the Olympics, with the argument that there would not be any new infrastructure needed, as the pipe had already been built, and the Olympics would likely get more for the money.

Burke won the controversy, with the discipline debuting in 2014 at the Sochi Games, where she would have been favored to win the gold, considering how she was a favourite to win a fifth title for the X games towards the end of the month.

Instead, competitors would only have to toast to her memory as they debut on what will become the grandest stage of the sport.

Peter Judge, CEO of the freestyle team of Canada, said that Burke defined the sport in many ways. She had apparently been involved from the early days as among the first players to bring skis to the pipe. He added that she had been very committed to defining her sport without defining herself by her victories.

Of course, the death will surely reignite the debate over the safety of the halfpipe. Leaders of the sport defend it with the fact that mandatory helmets as well as air bags are utilized on the sides of the pipes. They also point to the better technology that has contributed to making the sport safer, despite the rise in the walls of the pipes over the last 10 years, with their standing at 22 feet high at the present.

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