Canadian skier Burke undergoes surgery after accident

Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:51pm EST

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Jan 12 (Reuters) - Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who was seriously injured in a fall earlier this week, remained in critical condition at a Salt Lake City hospital on Thursday following surgery, doctors said.

Considered one of the top half-pipe athletes in the world, Burke was among the early favorites to win the Olympic gold medal when freestyle halfpipe makes its debut at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. She has reached the podium at every career World Cup start and is a four-time champion at the X-Games.

Burke, 29, was taken by air ambulance to University of Utah hospital on Tuesday after falling during a half-pipe run at Park City Mountain Resort.

Burke has since undergone successful surgery to repair a tear in her vertebral artery that resulted in an intracranial hemorrhage, Dr. William Couldwell, chair of neurosurgery at the hospital, said in a written statement released by the skier's representatives.

"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," Couldwell said in the statement.

"Our Neuro Critical Care team will be monitoring her condition and response continuously over the coming hours and days," he said.

Burke's family was grateful for the "overwhelming outpouring of support from around the globe," since the accident, Burke's publicist, Nicole Wool, said in the statement.

The family also requested privacy "in order to give them time with Sarah at this critical stage," Wool said.

Burke is married to fellow skier Rory Bushfield.

Peter Judge, the ski association's chief executive, has declined to discuss the nature of Burke's injuries and said he had little information on the incident that caused them.

Judge has said Burke was not attempting a new trick or "anything out of the norm" at the time she fell. (Editing by Daniel Trotta and Sandra Maler)

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