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20 Януари 2012 - 12:19
Почина канадската фрийстайл скиорка Сара Бърк
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Световноизвестната скиорка в свободния стил Сара Бърк почина в четвъртък от нараняванията, които получи по време на тренировка в щата Юта миналата седмица, съобщи говорителка на семейството й.

In this Jan. 23, 2009 file photo, Sarah Burke, of Canada, holds her gold metal after winning the Women's Superpipe event at Winter X Games 13 at Buttermilk Ski Area, near Aspen, Colo. Burke died Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, nine days after crashing at the bottom of the superpipe during a training run in Utah. She was 29. Burke was injured Jan. 10 while training at a personal sponsor event at the Park City Mountain resort. (AP Photo/Nathan Bilow, File)

Тя бе определяна като една от фаворитките да спечели златен медал на Олимпиадата в Сочи през 2014г.

"Сара почина в мир сред хората, които обичаше. Съгласно волята й, нейните органи и тъкани се даряват за спасяване живота на други хора", се казва в съобщението на Айрис Йен, изпратено до "Ройтерс".

29-годишната Бърк бе откарана с хеликоптер в болницата на Университета на Юта след падане в курорта Парк Сити Маунтън. На следващия ден тя претърпя операция за възстановяване на разкъсана артерия.

Йен съобщава, че от скъсаната артерия Бърк е получила кръвоизлив. "След операцията многобройни неврологични изследвания, електродиагностични тестове и скенери разкриха, че Сара е претърпяла тежка и необратима травма на мозъка поради липса на кислород и кръв след сърдечна криза." Йен изтъква, че не мозъчни наранявания, а липсата на кислород по време на кризата е била причината за тежкото й състояние.

В следващите седмици ще бъде организирано публично възпоменателно събитие за скиорката. Бърк беше омъжена за скиора Рори Бушфийлд. Канадката беше сред пионерите в женския ски халфпайп и четирикратна шампионка на екстремните зимни игри Winter X-Games.

Бърк беше сред основните поддръжници на идеята за вкарването на дисциплината в програмата на зимните Олимпийски игри в Сочи през 2014 г., която Международният Олимпийски комитет прие през април.

в-к Дневник
20 януари 2012 г.

Sarah Burke, a fearless competitor who shaped her sport

When she wasn’t soaring through the cold mountain air, her body spinning intricate tricks high above the superpipe, freestyle skier Sarah Burke spent most of her life fighting to take part in her chosen sport. First, she had to persuade the boys on the hills at Whistler to let her compete. When they agreed, she bested many of them. Next, she spent years pressing sports network ESPN to include her event at the X Games, a showcase for up-and-coming sports. She succeeded, and went on to win four gold medals.

Her greatest victory came earlier this year when the International Olympic Committee bent to her lobbying efforts and included superpipe in the 2014 games in Sochi. But in a tragic turn, she will not see that day.

The 29-year-old died on Thursday morning in a Utah hospital, nine days after falling over while landing a routine manoeuvre during a training run at the pipe in Park City.

Ms. Burke was the brightest star of a young sport: articulate and good-looking, she cultivated a high profile off the hill, designing clothing and appearing on television as a commentator, gaining a legion of fans and admirers around the world.

But despite her popularity and her long struggle to move her sport into the mainstream, those who knew her well say she retained a girl-next-door charm.

“Sarah was a person who in many ways was larger than life and lived life to the fullest,” said Peter Judge, CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. “At the time it wasn’t in, she was not bitter and twisted...then when it was in, she was very gracious.”

The accident that killed her was sheer bad luck. She was performing a flat-spin 540, a routine trick she had done countless times before, on a well-used superpipe that has seen thousands of skiers and snowboarders over the years. Ms. Burke landed on her feet, but whiplashed onto her side. It didn’t look serious at first, but the fall ruptured a major artery in her neck.

Bleeding in her head triggered a heart attack, which starved her brain of oxygen. She was rushed to hospital in Salt Lake City. As Ms. Burke remained in a coma, her parents, husband and sister stayed by her bedside, while fellow skiers made the trip to Utah to hold vigil at the hospital. After several days of tests, doctors determined she had suffered irreversible brain damage.

Ms. Burke spent the first 18 years of her life in Midland, Ont., a modest town of about 16,500 people on the shores of Georgian Bay, a two-hour drive north of Toronto. As soon as she started walking, her parents, Jan and Gordon, both artists, had her on skis at nearby Horseshoe Valley resort.

At age 14, she went to Whistler, B.C., for a ski camp, where she first met Rory Bushfield, whom she married many years later. Ms. Burke quickly grew bored with alpine skiing and gravitated toward freestyle, fascinated by the big air she could achieve from the jumps few girls would attempt at the time.

“The school took trips to Mount St. Louis for recreational ski days and Sarah spent most of the day in the terrain park to the amazement of all who watched her,” recalled John Faragher, one of Ms. Burke’s teachers at Midland Secondary School.

She ultimately relocated to Squamish, B.C., full-time, and her mother later joined her there. As she climbed to the top of her sport, she also made her mark with a life-of-the-party personality.

“The fondest thing I can think about Sarah is that she was always this sweet girl and so polite, nice to everybody,” Mike Douglas, Canada’s former national moguls ski coach, told The Globe and Mail in an interview earlier this week. “Even though she’s become one of the superstars over the last five or 10 years she hasn’t changed. None of it’s gone to her head at all.”

She used that stardom to mount a successful push for IOC recognition, speaking out at public events and talking to any official who would listen about why her sport deserved a spot.

As the reality of her death sank in, fellow athletes took stock of this legacy.

“I am eternally indebted to Sarah for what she has done for this sport -- every turn I ever make will be for her,” U.S. superpipe star Jen Hudak, who had been at the hospital, wrote in a email.

Calgary’s Warren Shouldice, who trained alongside Ms. Burke, said no amount of safety equipment could have prevented what happened.

“There’s definitely a sense of why and how could this happen and how tragic it is to lose someone in the freestyle family because it is a very tight community,” he said. “It was one of those terrible injustices.”

Ms. Burke, despite her fearlessness, knew these risks well, as she told TSN Radio just two days before her crash.

“I’ve broken every bone you can imagine. Broke my back, ribs, nose and torn a lot of ligaments. But that’s just part of the game and you try and be as calculated as you can,” she said. “But it is a sport that’s trial and error, you’ve got to try it on snow some time, and it’s not always going to go right.”

Adrian Morrow, Robert Macleod and James Christie
With reports from Allan Maki and Janet Rae Brooks
From Friday's Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 10:35PM EST

Sarah Burke's death cuts a deep scar in the sport of freestyle skiing

It was sunny, the sky mostly blue, and warm - upwards of 20 C. July 4, last summer, not a day you expect to going skiing. But on the Horstman Glacier atop Blackcomb Mountain at Whistler, July 4 was perfect day to ski.

Among all those with big smiles on the snow in the sun on was Sarah Burke, the pioneer of women’s freestyle skiing, four-time winner of gold in the halfpipe at X Games. Burke was on the Horstman, as had been her practice in recent years, not as competitor but as coach, mentor and big sister to hopeful teenagers.

“What do you feel like doing today?” Burke asked her troupe of teenage girls, standing atop a 22-foot superpipe, much like the one in Utah where Burke fell on Jan. 10.

“Pipe,” one girl voted.

“Halfpipe,” another agreed, “and airbag,” adding a vote for the training ground for new tricks where the landing is softer than hard snow.

Burke then reminded the teens of some important basics, standing strong on skis forward in the knees, a good bend in the knees to exert edge control on the skis, arms out front.

And then they were off, into the pipe, the girls dreaming of pulling tricks like one of their heroes. Among Burke’s many accomplishments was the first 1080 - three 360-degree rotations - landed by a woman in competition.

The Horstman Glacier, for several decades, has hosted summer camps for skiers and snowboards, something of an Olympics incubator. When Sarah first attended at 14, it was not with Olympics dreams. Her friends were going but she ended up on a different week. “I came alone, very scared and very shy,” she told me in an interview in the early afternoon, the snow soupy, the day of training over.

She was a moguls skier, from Midland, Ont., skied at the nearby Horseshoe Valley Ski Club. She made numerous trips to the summer camps out west and, at 17, she showed some of the spunk that eventually made her a pioneer in her sport. Burke eschewed the bumps to sneak over to the halfpipe, a place then not especially welcoming to women, never mind girls. But she was good- and caught the eye of Mike Douglas, a Whistler freeski legend.

Her singular career ascended from there, not only winning competitions but fighting, lobbying, cajoling organizers to take women’s halfpipe skiing seriously and include it at events.

She loved coming back to the Horstman to teach teenagers. Burke had an easy, warm smile, a glow.

“It’s always good to come here and remember why,” Burke told me. “The kids are so excited when they do their first 360.”

Summer days skiing on a glacier are festive.

“It’s so much fun, the atmosphere, the vibe for the kids,” Burke said. Channeling her memory of her summers as a camper: “All the best skiers are in one spot, and you get to ski with them. You don’t get that anywhere else.”

As camp was ending, word had gone around that the International Olympic Committee finally decided to add slopestyle, skiing and snowboarding, to the 2014 games in Russia. Burke’s sport, women’s ski halfpipe, had been given the nod in April, the culmination of her efforts to push the sport.

The Sochi Olympics - she would have been 31- were Burke’s main focus if, she said, “everything goes according to plan.”

Burke’s death cuts a deep scar, from the stretch of Pemberton-Whistler-Squamish-Vancouver in British Columbia, through a whole sport, and through all of Canada. Many Canadians have been affected by her widely reported/broadcast crash, hospital stay and death, and there has been an international outpouring of support online.

For those who knew her directly, and for those who love adventures in mountains in winter, it is a difficult death. When avalanches kill, it is terrible, but the circumstances are relatively clear. When Shane McConkey died, it was awful but not completely shocking, considering the extent of his extremities - skiing down radically steep faces, jumping off cliffs, then parachuting to the ground. It was amazing, until some equipment malfunctioned in Italy and he died, plummeting from the sky to the ground.

Burke’s crash wasn’t a particularly harsh one but it ruptured a vertebral artery, one of four that supply blood to brain. There was a brain hemorrhage, which caused cardiac arrest, which cut off oxygen to the brain and caused severe and irreversible brain damage. She died Thursday morning. She was 29.

After Burke and I spoke, she pulled some tricks in the pipe for the lens of my colleague, photographer John Lehmann. The story and picture ran Saturday, July 16, the photograph splashed big on the page, the image of Burke flying above the lip of the pipe, a pioneer in her prime, a halo of clouds in the sky.

She was the star of a niche sport. Few people had heard of her before her crash. My story about the summer camps was only the sixth time her name had ever been in The Globe and Mail. It is a testament to the extent of her accomplishments, and her quality as a human being, that her story has resonated so much in the past ten days.

A report released on Tuesday reported that skiing and snowboarding are the most hazardous of winter sports. Some 2,300 people were sent to hospital last winter in Canada with injuries bad enough to require at least a night’s stay. The numbers are double those of hockey, which had about 1,100 hospitalizations, about the same as snowmobiling.

Thankfully, most people on mountains now wear helmets. Of skiers and snowboarders 18 and younger, four out of five wear a helmet, double the rate of a decade ago. And there is a new push to make it mandatory, at least for kids.

Still, there is no absolute safety. And, despite risks, some people love to race down mountains and pull impossible-looking flipping, spinning tricks, because it’s rad, a jolt of joy. The rush is often described by adherents as drug-like, an addiction.

But death lurks. It may be rare, but it lurks, in the halfpipe, in the backcountry, or on any ordinary intermediate-rated run on any ski hill anywhere.

david ebner
Globe and Mail Update
Published Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 7:36AM EST


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