Whistler freestyle skier comatose after crash
Published Wednesday, January 11, 2012 4:21PM PST
Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke remains in a coma after crashing on the superpipe in Park City, Utah while training for the upcoming Winter X Games.
Burke, a four-time X Games champion who successfully lobbied to have halfpipe events included in the 2014 Olympics, was airlifted to hospital in Salt Lake City Tuesday after a hard landing.
She was listed in critical condition in the facility's neurological critical care unit on Wednesday, according to a release from the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, and is scheduled for surgery.
Burke's husband Rory Bushfield, who is said to be by the injured skier's side with her family, told the CFSA "Sarah is a very strong young woman and she will most certainly fight to recover."
The 28-year-old, who was born in Ontario before moving to Squamish, B.C., is believed to have landed a trick on her feet before bouncing onto her head.
"What I've heard is that the crash itself didn't appear to be that severe," said CFSA spokeswoman Kelley Korbin, adding that it "obviously turned out to be very serious."
Park City Mountain Resort patrollers stabilized Burke at the scene before she was flown to hospital.
The crash occurred on the same halfpipe where U.S. snowboarder Kevin Pearce was injured in December 2009. Pearce hit his head on the lip of the pipe, leaving him with critical brain injuries.
Burke, who also won ESPN's Best Female Action Sports Athlete in 2007, also broke a vertebrae in 2009 after a bad landing, but was set to defend her title at the upcoming Winter X Games in Aspen.
CFSA CEO Peter Judge lauded Burke for her role in promoting freestyle skiing, saying she "in many ways defines the sport."
"She was always concerned about making herself the best in the sport, not comparing herself to other people," Judge said in a conference call with reporters.
While asking for privacy, Burke's husband and family are encouraging friends and fans to post messages of encouragement on Burke's Facebook page.