Freestyle Skiing Sochi

January 20, 2012 by staff 

Freestyle Skiing Sochi, Using her stature as an enormously successful athlete in her freestyle skiing discipline, Sarah Burke pushed hard to have women compete in the event at the Winter X Games and later to have it included in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Burke, among the pioneers in her sport, was successful there as well. She won four X Games titles in freestyle halfpipe, and the International Olympic Committee decided last April to add it to the Olympic program.

Burke immediately became the gold medal favorite for Sochi, but she never will have the chance to show off her skills at the Olympics. The 29-year-old Canadian died Thursday at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City as a result of a fall in a Jan. 10 training accident that ruptured a vertebral artery.

“Her legacy will be ingrained in the sport forever,” Mike Jankowski, head coach of the U.S. snowboard and freeskiing teams, said by phone after learning of Burke’s death.

The tragedy underscored once again the inherent dangers in many of the high-speed snow-and-ice sports at the heart of the Winter Olympics and X Games competitions.

Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died when he flew from his sled and hit a post in a training crash at the 2010 Winter Olympics. A leading U.S. snowboarders, Kevin Pearce, nearly died, spent weeks in a coma and still is underdoing extensive rehabilitation after his head hit the top of a halfpipe wall as he trained for the Vancouver Games.

Both Pearce and Burke were hurt on the same halfpipe in Park City, Utah.

“The risks are inherent, and we are fully aware of them every day we are out there,” Jankowski said. “No matter what level you are at, at any time you know you can slip and fall and hurt yourself.”

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