Sarah Burke Accident: Family of Skier Awaits Further Tests

Jan 16, 2012 1:03pm
gty Sarah Burke nt 120116 wblog Sarah Burke Accident: Family of Skier Awaits Further Tests

Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Awaiting the results of further medical tests, family members of star Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke canceled a scheduled press conference today to update the world on her condition.

“Last night, Rory Bushfield, Sarah’s husband and members of her family met with physicians to discuss the results of Sarah’s most recent neurological tests and assessments. Based on the information they received, we regret to inform you that they have decided to cancel today’s press conference in order for further tests to be conducted this morning and in the coming days,” according to a statement from Burke’s publicist.

Information about Burke’s condition and prognosis for recovery has been sparse since the 29-year-old Winter X Games champion and 2005 half-pipe world gold medalist and was injured Tuesday in a training accident on the half-pipe course at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah. She sustained “serious injuries,” according to a statement from her publicist, and underwent a successful operation Wednesday to repair a torn vertebral artery that had caused bleeding to her brain.

“With traumatic brain injury, our care is focused on addressing the primary injury and preventing secondary brain damage, as well as managing other injuries sustained at the time of the accident; all of which requires close monitoring and intensive care,” Dr. Safdar Ansari, a neurointensivist with the University of Utah said in a statement released Jan. 13 to ABC News. “At this moment, Sarah needs more time before any prognosis can be determined.”

Burke remains intubated and sedated in critical condition, a hospital administrator told ABC News.

Burke injured a vertebral artery, a set of major arteries in the neck which supply blood to the brain, and resulted in an intracranial hemorrhage. According to experts, disrupting the blood flow to the brain can result in brain damage or death depending on the severity of the case, the Associated Press reported.

Burke is currently in the hospital’s Neuro Critical Care Unit, surrounded by family, including her husband, fellow free skier Rory Bushfield. Together, they are royalty in the skiing world. In a statement after last week’s accident Bushfield said that his wife is “a very strong young woman” who “will most certainly fight to recover.”

Freestyle skiing is something of a daredevil sport — a sort of trick skiing that uses the half-pipe, which is normally used by snowboarders. Burke was training for the upcoming X Games in Aspen, Colo., where she was the defending champion. She was also a favorite heading into the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, having lobbied to have women’s skiing superpipe added to the lineup.

Burke’s accident occurred on the same course where snowboarder and Olympic medalist Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2009. Pearce ultimately went through two years of intensive therapy to relearn how to walk, talk and he finally took his first ride on a snowboard in December.

ABC News’ Sabina Ghebremedhin contributed reporting.

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