Learning about skier Sarah Burke after her death means extra work for the tear ducts

Posted: 01/19/2012 in winter olympics, women's sports
Tags: , ,

I had tears welling in my eyes a few times Thursday night because I decided to read some stories about a person I never met and barely heard of until last week.

Canadian skier Sarah Burke died on Thursday nine days after a horrific crash during a practice run. She was all of 29 years old and considered a pioneer in her sport.

It struck me as such a shame that most of us are just learning about her extraordinary qualities because of her accident – here is the AP video report of her death http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rj7jGDgJ2wA.

Obviously, fans of the Winter X Games – she was a four-time champion – were already very familiar with Burke. She was one of those successful athletes that excelled outside of the mainstream and even won an ESPY in 2007 as the top female action sports athlete.

Her sport wasn’t part of the Winter Olympics so she didn’t have name recognition with most of us. But that was supposed to change in 2014.

You see, Burke had led the movement to get her specialty sport – superpipe skiing – added to the 2014 Games in Russia. She would have been considered the favorite to win a gold medal.

You know how Winter Olympics heroes seem to come out of nowhere and grab everybody’s attention? Sounds like Burke would have been one of those with that type of ability in 2014.

So instead, we are learning about Burke’s class and style after she is gone. The injuries she suffered in the crash sounded brutal and there is an accompanying diagram that explains them in this well-done story by the National Post – http://sports.nationalpost.com/2012/01/19/canadian-skier-sarah-burke-dead-one-week-after-crash/

She was genuinely liked by her competitors and had signed up to be an organ donator so somebody, somewhere will get a second chance at life due to her misfortune.

I noticed Burke had broken a vertebra in her back in 2009 and played the injury off a year later as being part of the deal when you sign on to participate in an extreme sport. She said she would do the same thing again.

And of course she would have. That’s what top-flight athletes do. The competitive juices don’t disappear due to a serious injury.

Burke died while doing what she loved. She knew the risk involved with her sport and undoubtedly was hoping to retire on her own terms somewhere down the line.

The ironic thing – and a heartbreakingly sad truth – is that more people will be touched by Burke’s tragic passing than if she had won a gold medal in 2014 and then lived 40 more years.

I think that’s why I kept having those tears welling in my eyes. It’s hard to think we all missed an opportunity to know more about a terrific young woman while she was alive. (click here for picture http://www.inquisitr.com/wp-content/2012/01/600_sarah_burke_ap_120111.jpeg)

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