Free-skiing world is mourning the death of a pioneer in women's free skiing. On Thursday, January 19, four-time Winter X Games gold medalist Sarah Burke finally succumbed to the injuries she sustained in an accident during January 11 training run on the superpipe in Park City, Utah. She died at the Salt Lake City hospital at the age of 29.
In a statement released by a family spokeswoman, her parents Jan and Gordon, sister Anna and husband Rory Bushfield said, "Sarah passed away peacefully surrounded by those she loved." They added, "In accordance with Sarah's wishes, her organs and tissues were donated to save the lives of others."
The family of the Canadian freestyle skier, who was an Olympic hopeful for the 2014 Winter Games, also expressed their "heartfelt gratitude" for the "international outpouring of support they have received from all the people Sarah touched."
The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association said that Sarah fell on the Eagle Superpipe after performing a trick known as a Flat Spin 540. She crashed on the same halfpipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury in a training accident on December 31, 2009.
About the crash, CEO of the Canadian freestyle team Peter Judge told Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper, "She landed a trick down in the bottom end of the pipe and kind of bounced from her feet to her head." He added, "It wasn't anything that looked like a catastrophic fall, so I'm a bit mystified."
Sarah's publicist Nicole Wool revealed that the professional skier tore her vertebral artery in the fall, causing her to go into cardiac arrest on the scene. The representative additionally said that tests showed that she sustained "irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood after cardiac arrest."
Sarah actually underwent successful surgery to repair the torn vertebral artery that caused bleeding between her brain and her skull last Thursday, 12. She, however, never regained consciousness.