Olympic Hopeful Sarah Burke Dies at 29

4:49 PM PST 01/19/2012 by Michael O'Connell
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The freestyle skier, instrumental in the addition of a superpipe competition to the 2014 games, was fatally injured in a Jan. 10 training accident.

NBC's broadcast of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will showcase freestyle superpipe skiing for the first time in the Games' year history. Sadly, one of the sport's greatest advocates won't be there to welcome it.

X-Games veteran and daredevil Canadian ski pro Sarah Burke has died, after a Jan. 11 crash during a training run left her comatose.

Though she successfully underwent surgery to fix a torn artery that caused bleeding between her brain and skull, doctors said the lack of oxygen to her brain in the immediate wake of the accident caused irreparable damage.

The Canadian Olympic Committee spoke out about Burke's passing on Thursday.

"Today, Canada and the world lost a wonderful athlete and a great Canadian ambassador in freestyle skier Sarah Burke," read the statement. "Sarah was a true inspiration to all who had the privilege to know her, especially to the new generation of athletes in this country as she helped define the superpipe discipline in the sport of freestyle skiing. Her fans from Canada and around the world looked up to her and all she has accomplished as a true leader. This true champion will be missed but never forgotten."

Burke enjoyed years of success in her sport, winning gold medals at both the Winter X-Games and World Free Style Skiing Championships, but she campaigned heavily for freestyle superpipe to be included in the Olympics.

Lobbying from Burke and others eventually won over Olympics, which will introduce superpipe skiing to the games for the first time in 2014. Burke was considered a favorite for the gold medal.

Canadian freestyle team CEO Peter Judge, spoke of her importance to superpipe in the days between her accident and her death.

"Sarah, in many ways, defines the sport," said Judge. "She's been involved since the very, very early days as one of the first people to bring skis into the pipe. She's also been very dedicated in trying to define her sport but not define herself by winning. For her, it's been about making herself the best she can be rather than comparing herself to other people."

In a statement, Burke's husband and parents said her request to have her organs and tissues donated was honored after her death.

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