Freestyle skiing star Sarah Burke dead at 29

Chris Chase

Sarah Burke, a women's freestyle skiing pioneer who was instrumental in getting the sport onto the schedule for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, died Thursday due to injuries suffered in a crash earlier this month.

The 29-year-old Canadian fell during a training run in Utah on Jan. 10. She tore her vertebral artery, causing bleeding in the brain and cardiac arrest. She died nine days later in a Salt Lake City hospital as a result of severe brain damage stemming from those injuries.

Burke was a four-time Winter X Games champion in freestyle skiing and helped spearhead the effort to have the event added to the Olympics. Her logic was so simple even the traditionalists at the IOC couldn't argue. The halfpipes used by freestyle skiers were already in place thanks to similar events in snowboarding. Adding skiing events would double the use.

Her efforts were successful and Burke was expected to reap the benefits. She figured to be the heavy favorite to win the inaugural gold medal in the event two years from now when the Games head to Russia.

Burke married fellow skier Rory Bushfield in 2010 and the two were the subject of the Ski Channel documentary, "Winter."

"She was the first woman to try to compete in this sport and did so against the guys," Jen Hudak, a member of the U.S. Freestyle Team, told the Deseret News. "Sarah was certainly a pioneer and a large part of why our sport is now in the Olympic Games."

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