Canadian Freestyle skier Sarah Burke has been pushing the envelope for 10 years.
This time she may have pushed a little too far.
The four-time Winter X Games winner was injured Tuesday during a training run on the superpipe in Park City, Utah. The injury put the 29 year old into a coma.
Peter Judge of the Canadian Freestyle team told Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper:
She landed a trick down in the bottom end of the pipe and kind of bounced from her feet to her head… It wasn’t anything that looked like a catastrophic fall, so I’m a bit mystified.
Today, Burke underwent surgery to repair a torn vertebral artery, which had caused bleeding into her brain.
In a statement released by Burke’s publicist, Dr. William Couldwell, the neurosurgeon who performed the operation, said:
With injuries of this type, we need to observe the course of her brain function before making definitive pronouncements about Sarah’s prognosis for recovery. Our neuro critical care team will be monitoring her condition and response continuously over the coming hours and days.
This part of the brain contains structures that are crucial for keeping a person alive. For instance, the brainstem controls breathing and swallowing, among other things. Parts of the brain help with vision (occipital lobes) and movement coordination (cerebellum) are also located in the back of the brain.
Injuries to or near the spinal column in the neck can injure the vertebral arteries.
There are three main ways:
Because there are two vertebral arteries on a side, this type of injury may not show any symptoms. This makes it hard to diagnose. However if the injury is severe symptoms include:
Burke will be kept in a medically induced coma to help minimize brain swelling during her recovery.
We wish her well.
In the meantime, we can enjoy watching her Winter X Games Gold Metal Run:
Sarah Burke died today. The skier never regained consciousness.
Her publicist confirmed in a statement that Burke passed away “peacefully surrounded by those she loved,” her parents and husband Rory Bushfield.
Her family has donated her organs to help others. What a wonderful gift has come from such a tragedy!