Bloomberg News

Canadian Freestyle Skier Sarah Burke in Coma After Utah Accident

January 12, 2012

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke was in an induced coma after a halfpipe training accident at Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort.

Burke, 29, a four-time superpipe Winter X Games champion and the 2005 halfpipe world champion, pushed successfully to get halfpipe added to the program for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Burke, who was expected to seek to defend her 2011 Winter X Games title later this month in Aspen, Colorado, was in critical condition yesterday at University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City. The accident occurred a day earlier.

“Sarah is a very strong young woman and she will most certainly fight to recover,” her husband, freestyle skier Rory Bushfield, said from her bedside in a statement released by the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.

Kevin Pearce, an American snowboarder, suffered a serious brain injury in a training run on the same halfpipe in Park City on Dec. 31, 2009. He returned to the slopes last month.

Jen Hudak, an American halfpipe skier who has won two World Championships medals, told USA Today that “this is a very scary moment in women’s freeskiing.”

“I skied the pipe the day before and it was good,” Hudak said. “Park City’s pipe is notoriously the steepest and gnarliest pipe in the world, really quick transitions and when you get caught slightly off, you slam hard.”

Peter Judge, chief executive officer of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, described Burke as “the top female halfpipe athlete in the world.”

“She was instrumental in launching the sport and has continued to be a leader moving towards the sport’s Olympic debut in 2014,” Judge said in the association’s statement. “She is an incredibly resilient and strong young woman and we are hoping she will draw on that strength at this time.”

--Editors: Dan Baynes, Dex McLuskey.

#<458505.968168.># -0- Jan/12/2012 05:01 GMT

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Gloster in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at

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