Four-time X Games champion and pioneer of freestyle skiing Sarah Burke is reportedly in critical condition after suffering a fall off the half-pipe on Tuesday at Park City Mountain resort in Utah.
According to ABC News, Burke reportedly “sustained serious injuries and remains intubated and sedated in critical condition" on Wednesday, according to a doctor at University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City. Burke was having surgery on Wednesday after hitting her head during the fall.
Burke was scheduled to compete in this year's Winter X Games to defend her title. She's competed with men when there weren't any events for women and is credited with paving the way for freestyle skiing to be included in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. She's been considered the favorite for the gold medal there.
This only further highlights the perils of the sport, where competitors put their bodies on the line for something they love. Burke fell at the same spot where Kevin Pearce did two years ago, which left him with a traumatic brain injury.
So often it's easy to take for granted what these athletes give us every year. Their spectacular feats of expanding the limits on the slopes make us feel like they're invincible at times, but it only takes one big fall to hammer home the point that they are endangering themselves with every trick.
It's not like skiers like Burke don't know this, of course. They are as aware as anyone that they compete in a dangerous sport where injuries are common. But when you're doing what you love, you don't think twice about the potential to suffer serious injuries. And when you're as good as Burke has been, it's easy to feel invincible.
When you're watching the Winter X Games this year, appreciate what these athletes do and the dedication they have for their sports. They deserve a great deal of praise.