Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Tribune file photo) Sarah Burke, a Canadian freestyle skier, sustained “serious” injuries while training in the Eagle Superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort on Tuesday. Jan. 10, 2012.
Canadian freestyle skier Burke remains in critical condition
Winter Sports » Family thanks hospital staff, friends and fans for support.
First Published Jan 11 2012 09:20 am • Last Updated Jan 19 2012 02:20 pm

All Sarah Burke ever wanted to do was have fun skiing, win the Olympics and help her sport grow.

Now, the 29-year-old Canadian freestyle skier lies comatose in critical condition at University Hospital in Salt Lake City, following surgery Wednesday to treat the serious head injury she suffered in a crash in the superpipe at the Park City Mountain Resort.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Her prognosis is unknown.

But friends and fans buried social media sites with get-well wishes for one of the best skiers in the world, a pioneering icon in her sport who was revered in the ski and snowboard community for her spirit and dedication long before her devastating injury.

Burke "in many ways defines the sport," said Peter Judge, the CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.

That’s because Burke has spent years not only competing at the top of ski superpipe — similar to snowboarding’s halfpipe competition, except on skis — but also pushing for gender equity within the sport and lobbying hard to get it included in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

She was considered a top medal contender, as a four-time gold medalist at the Winter X Games.

Burke began skiing when she was 5 years old, near her home in a small town in Ontario.

In a documentary film project produced last year by The Ski Channel, Burke recalled traveling with her father to competitions around Canada as a teenager, hoping to convince organizers to let her compete and "not understanding why I could beat half those boys, but they wouldn’t let me in the contests."

story continues below
story continues below

She also joked about repeatedly e-mailing the organizers of the Winter X Games, asking them when they would allow women to compete in her sport.

"Every female skier owes a debt of gratitude to Sarah Burke," the narrator says.

But Burke also knew the dangers of twisting and spinning high into the air and trying to land safely on the ice sides of the halfpipe.

"You’re going to take a lot of crashes learning and perfecting things," she told CBC Sports last year. "That’s something that you kind of know as you go into it."

The words sound haunting now, with her life in the balance.

Doctors performed surgery on Wednesday afternoon, according to hospital vice president Chris Nelson, though further details were not available.

Earlier in the day, Burke was in an induced coma with a breathing tube in her throat, according to Safdar Ansari, a neurointensivist with University of Utah Health Care. That’s standard protocol for treating a serious brain injury, said Robert Foxford, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association’s team doctor.

Burke’s family was with her in the hospital’s Neuro-Critical Care Unit, according to her publicist, and wanted "to express their sincere thanks to everyone, all over the world, for their heartfelt thoughts, prayers, and well wishes."

Her husband, fellow freestyle skier Rory Bushfield, said Burke is a "very strong young woman and she will most certainly fight to recover," according to a statement.

It’s unclear exactly what happened Tuesday.

Burke somehow fell after landing a trick near the end of the superpipe during a personal sponsor event that Judge said "wasn’t an activity we were directly involved in," which is why Canadian officials had few details. Judge said he was told Burke "kind of bounced" from her feet to her head, in an accident that did not look as bad as it turned out to be.

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.