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Kamis, 12 Januari 2012

Sarah Burke Accident: Freestyle Skiing Champion in Coma

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Canadian Olympic hopeful Sarah Burke, the winningest woman in the world of freestyle skiing, is in a medically induced coma after crashing on a half-pipe course training ramp in Park City, Utah.

Peter Judge, CEO of the Canadian freestyle team, confirmed to the Associated Press that Burke, 29, is in a coma after the Tuesday accident left her in critical condition.

"What I've heard, relatively directly, is that she landed a trick down in the bottom end of the pipe, and kind of bounced, from her feet to her head," Judge told the Toronto Globe and Mail. "It wasn't anything that looked like a catastrophic fall, so I'm a bit mystified."

Burke, who is not only one of the best female skiers in the world but a red carpet regular and fashion plate who was once named one of FHM's 100 sexiest women alive, was admitted and treated at University Hospital in Salt Lake, a spokeswoman for the hospital had confirmed.

Freestyle skiing is something of a daredevil sport -- a sort of trick skiing that uses the half-pipe, which is normally used by snowboarders. In recent days, Burke has been training for the upcoming X-Games in Aspen, Colo., in which she has already won the gold four times.

Burke's accident occurred on the same course where snowboarder and Olympic medalist Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2009. Pearce ultimately went through two years of intensive therapy to relearn how to walk, talk and he finally took his first ride on a snowboard in December.

Burke and her husband, Rory Bushfield, also a free skier, are royalty in the skiing world. Bushfield appealed to the public on Twitter late Tuesday, asking for help arranging travel for him and Burke's mother to get to Salt Lake City. According to Burke's publicist, the family is now with Burke at the hospital.

The family requested privacy to focus on Burke's recovery.

Burke was well aware of the extreme risks of her sport, and even discussed the danger on "Good Morning America" two years ago.

"You wear helmets. You wear padding. You do what you have to do, but you learn how to handle it," she said at the time.

In a statement he released Wednesday Bushfield says that his wife is "very strong."

"Sarah is a very strong young woman, and she will most certainly fight to recover," he said.

Burke had also been an advocate for years for freestyle skiing, for both men and women, to be included in the winter Olympics. She had only recently succeeded, but now it's unclear whether she'll be able to compete in the winter games in Russia in 2014.

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