Tragedy Felt at the Winter X Games in Aspen

Sarah Burke
Sarah Burke, pictured here at the 2010 World Skiing Invitational, died after suffering injuries from a hard fall while practicing for the 2012 Winter X Games.
Image: Patrick Hui

This year’s Winter X Games included 18 events, complete with skis, mono-skis, snowboards and snowmobiles. The 2012 Winter X Games, held in Aspen Colorado, was an exciting time for winter sports, but tragedy struck with the untimely death of one of the event’s most popular athletes, Sarah Burke.

Prior to the event’s start, the big story leading up to the 2012 Winter X Games came with the tragic loss of Canadian skier Sarah Burke. She died nine days after taking a hard fall during practice in Park City Utah. As a result of her fall, Burke’s vertebral artery was torn, causing her to go into cardiac arrest at the age of 29.

She took her last run prepping for the women’s Super Pipe, an event in which she had won a gold medal four times before. A week after her death, Sarah Burke’s family and friends paid tribute to her with a candlelight ski down the Super Pipe at the Winter X Games. Burke’s accomplishments include being the first skier to win an ESPY and being awarded the “Female Action Sports Athlete of the Year” in 2007.

Burke was the first female skier to land a 720, 900, and 1080 in competition and is touted as the best female freestyle skier who ever lived. Burke is described as a pioneer of her sport and helped progress the sport of skiing to what it is today. Because of her efforts, Women’s Ski Pipe will be added to the Winter Olympics in 2014.

This year’s gold medalist in Women’s Ski Super Pipe is Burke’s teammate and fellow Canadian, Roz Groenwoud. The emotional final became something of a celebration in the memory of Sarah Burke where Groenwoud would win her very first gold medal.

“I definitely felt like I had Sarah with me. She was my teammate for so long,” Groenwoud said.

The loss of Sarah Burke was felt throughout the X Games this year. Many competitors paid tribute to her memory and wore a “Sarah” sticker on their helmets.

Sarah was described not only as an accomplished athlete, but as “one of the nicest people I’ve known in my life,” Super Pipe skier and X Games medalist, Simon Dumont, said.

Her presence at this year’s X Games was widely missed by friends, family, fans, teammates and competitors. Sarah Burke was a prospective Gold medalist in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Her potential to break the boundaries in her sport will not be seen, but will also never be doubted.

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