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Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke passes away after skiing accident

January 20, 2012

Sarah Burke, an Olympic freestyle skier from Canada, passed away due to complications from a skiing accident. The 29-year-old athlete was headed for the 2014 Olympic Games, but after a fall on a superpipe in Park City, Utah, Burke was left with irreversible brain damage. The BBC News reports that she succumbed to her injuries on January 19, just nine days after the accident.

Burke was not only a freestyle skier, but she was one of the trailblazers of the sport.

"Sarah, in many ways, defines the sport," Peter Judge, the chief executive of Canada's freestyle team, told the BBC. "She's been involved since the very, very early days as one of the first people to bring skis into the pipe."

The Canadian skier underwent extensive brain surgery, but surgeons were unable to reverse damage caused by a torn artery that cut off oxygen to her brain, according to CTV. Now, her grieving family is left with her memory and a substantial $550,000 in medical bills. They've called upon Burke's fans and supporters for help, and have already raised more than 10 percent of their goal, the news source reports.

Those who are living or working outside the country can make calls to Canada with international phone cards to talk to their friends about the tragedy and what it may mean for Canada's Olympic team.

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