Canadians and sports fan across the world are mourning today due to the announcement released this afternoon of Sarah Burke’s death due to accident related injuries. A leader in women’s freestyling skiing as well as a champion Canadian sports athlete, Burke will be forever remembered in her home country.
Her career, as well as her life, was fantastic although tragically short. Making headlines for the first time in 2001, Sarah Burke placed 1st in the US Freesking Open on the half-pipe, ranking second at the same time in the slopestyle competition. Also that year, ESPN recognized Burke’s superiority by giving her the 2001 Female Skier of the Year Award.
Burke’s career was meteoric. Showing off her athletic prowess at Winter X-Games, Burke became star. Burke proved her skiing dominance on the Superpipe by competing and receiving a Gold medal four years in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.
Another notable recognition was Burke’s ESPY and BERT 2007 Best Female Action Sports Athlete awards. Burke was the first skier ever to be honoured in such a way.
Burke is leaving behind a legacy for women skiing competition on the superpipe. Because of Burkes advocacy and determination, superpipe skiing has been added to the 2014 Winter Olympic schedule, creating a new athleticism never seen in the Olympics before.
Her unexpected passing comes as a surprise to the global sports community. Burke’s demise was a result of injuries sustained on the Eagle Superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort while training for upcoming winter events according to a release from Burke’s publicist. On January 10th, Burke was rushed to the University of Utah Hospital where it was determined Burke sustained “sustained severe irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood after cardiac arrest.”
"Sarah passed away peacefully surrounded by those she loved. In accordance with Sarah’s wishes, her organs and tissues were donated to save the lives of others,” said Burke’s publicist in an official statement.
Unfortunately this news will bring about controversial debate upon the safety of superpipe skiing, a sport Burke specially heralded throughout her career.
Officials and enthusiasts alike attest to Burke’s passion and influence upon the sport. In a quote given to the Associated Press, Peter Judge, The CEO of Canada’s freestyle team said of Burke, “She’s been involved since the very, very early days as one of the first people to bring skis into the pipe. She’s also been very dedicated in trying to define her sport but not define herself by winning. For her, it's been about making herself the best she can be rather than comparing herself to other people.”