It's a sad day in the world of sports. Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke has died from injuries sustained during an accident on January 10th. The 29-year-old skiing phenom was training at a resort in Park City, Utah, on The Superpipe (a daunting canyon with 22-foot high walls that's carved into the side of a ski slope) when she fell and ruptured an artery in her neck. Ultimately, the damage done to her brain proved to be irreversible, and she passed away this morning.
Burke was a freestyle skiing legend. She helped pioneer the branch of the sport that skis on halfpipes, which were once reserved exclusively for snowboarders. She won four gold medals at the Winter X Games, as well as the 2005 world championships. Burke fought hard for woman to even be included in the sport she loved. She described part of that battle in the film Winter,
It was a lot of sad calls to my parents, not understanding why I could beat half those boys, but they wouldn't let me in the contest. I remember sending emails to X Games, you guys got girls yet? … Kept pushing with X Games and ESPN, trying to get us in … and finally they did.
She is also being remembered for her fight to make halfpipe skiing an Olympic sport. Thanks in part to her efforts, it will debut during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Burke was considered an early favorite to win a medal, and it's a real tragedy that she won't be here to see her dream realized.
Below is an excerpt from Winter, which offers a great picture of Burke's skiing career and also captures a moment which now seems incredibly poignant. She's talking about how much she and her husband, fellow skier Rory Bushfield, love being out in the mountains and closes with this thought:
That's where we're happiest … It's what our lives are, is being on the hill, and there's a reason for that. It's amazing. It's where we met. It's where we play, we live, and … where we'll die.