Canadian Freestyle Skier Sarah Burke Dies at 29

Celebrity News Jan. 19, 2012 AT 5:32PM
Canadian Freestyle Skier Sarah Burke Dies at 29 Credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Sad news for the ski community.

Four-time Winter X Games champion Sarah Burke passed away Thursday, nine days after suffering irreversible brain damage and going into cardiac arrest during a training session in Park City, Utah. She was 29.

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The Canadian freestyle skier fell on the same halfpipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a brain injury while training in 2009.

"She landed a trick down in the bottom end of the pipe and kind of bounced from her feet to her head," Peter Judge, the CEO of the Canadian freestyle team told Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper. "It wasn't anything that looked like a catastrophic fall, so I'm a bit mystified."

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Burke tore her vertebral artery during the fall, which resulted in a severe brain bleed that sent her into cardiac arrest. She underwent surgery to repair that artery last Thursday, but remained in a coma.

"The family expresses their heartfelt gratitude for the international outpouring of support they have received from all the people Sarah touched," the athlete's publicist, Nicole Wool, said in a statement Thursday.

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Burke's organs and tissues were donated per her request. She leaves behind her husband of two years, skier Rory Bushfield.

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