Sarah Burke, Pioneering Freestyle Skier, Dies At 29

Olympic hopeful had been in a coma since a skiing accident in Park City, Utah, last week.

Professional skier and Olympic hopeful Sarah Burke died Thursday (January 19) following an accident during a training run on the superpipe in Park City, Utah, on January 11; Burke had been in a coma since the crash. Burke’s publicist confirmed the news of her death to People magazine.

The freestyle skier’s death comes just one week after she underwent successful surgery to repair a torn vertebral artery that caused bleeding between her brain and skull. Despite the success of the procedure, Burke remained in a coma.

Hospital officials told the magazine that Burke suffered a ruptured artery, which caused her to go into cardiac arrest. She sustained irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood and never regained consciousness.

According to a statement from her parents, sister and husband Rory Bushfield obtained by People, Burke died “peacefully surrounded by those she loved” and her organs and tissues were donated, per the skier’s wishes. The family also expressed their “heartfelt gratitude” in the statement, for the “international outpouring of support they have received from all the people Sarah touched.”

The 29-year-old Canadian was considered a pioneer in women’s free skiing, “The Godmother” of the sport according to the Ski Channel. She was an eight-time X-Games medalist and an Olympic hopeful for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Burke’s family has reportedly received a substantial number of inquiries from people asking how they can offer support and make a donation on behalf of Burke. For more information, please go to GiveForward.com.

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