Sarah Burke: Olympic Hopeful Dies from Injuries Sustained in Crash

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterJanuary 19, 2012

ASPEN, CO - JANUARY 23:  Sarah Burke of Whistler, Canada poses with her gold medal after winning the Women's Skiing Superpipe at Winter X Games 13 on Buttermilk Mountain on January 23, 2009 in Aspen, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Four-time Winter X Games champion freestyle skier Sarah Burke passed away Thursday from injuries sustained in a training accident.

According to ABC 4 News in Salt Lake City, officials at the University of Utah Medical Center have confirmed Burke's passing.

Burke was injured on Tuesday, Jan. 10 during a training run on the superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort. She had been in a coma, and she underwent surgery to repair an artery tear a day after the accident.

Per the ABC 4 News report, doctors say Burke suffered "severe irreversible damage" to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood. She passed away "peacefully surrounded by those she loved." 

Burke's family released a statement expressing their gratitude at the amount of support Burke received after her accident:

The family expresses their heartfelt gratitude for the international outpouring of support they have received from all the people Sarah touched.

Peter Judge, CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, did his best to describe Burke's fall to The Globe and Mail last week.

LA PLAGNE, FRANCE - MARCH 20: (FRANCE OUT) Sarah Burke of Canada takes 1st place during the FIS Freestyle World Cup Men's and Women's Halfpipe on March 20, 2011 in La Plagne, France.  (Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

“We know that she had landed a trick in the pipe and had landed at the bottom of the pipe and kind of hit on her feet, so she landed, and then bounced onto her feet, head kind of thing,” Judge said. “Apparently, from what we heard, it didn't look like it was that kind of severe a fall, but obviously she must have just hit in the right way.”

Burke was treated at the scene by ski patrol, transported to base patrol and then airlifted to the hospital.

Andy Miller, communications manager at Park City Mountain Resort, confirmed that the halfpipe where Burke was practicing was the same halfpipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury in a crash on New Year's Eve in 2009.

Burke was instrumental in lobbying for halfpipe skiing to be included in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In an interview with ESPN.com that was published in early January, Burke said competing in the Olympics was her primary goal.

"No real plan other than making it to the Olympics. That's the big goal for now," she said.

When the 29-year-old Burke was asked what it was like to be competing against younger skiers, she admitted that she would wonder sometimes what kept her going.

"Sometimes I do wonder why I am still here," she said. "But the fact is I still really, really love it. I love skiing, and I got a taste for the top when I was young and don't want to let it go."