Star skier Burke in coma after surgery

Star skier Burke in coma after surgery

Published Jan. 10, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke remained comatose following surgery Wednesday, a day after she was injured in a training accident in the superpipe.

Details of Wednesday's operation, at Salt Lake City's University Hospital, were not immediately reported and Burke's prognosis remains unknown.

In a statement released by Burke's publicist, a doctor at University of Utah hospital says Burke "sustained serious injuries and remains intubated and sedated in critical condition."

Robert Foxford, doctor for the Canadian freestyle team, said it was his understanding Burke had been placed in an induced coma.


"That would be the standard procedure for someone with a significant brain injury," Foxford said.

Burke's publicist released a statement from Burke's husband Rory Bushfield and her family.

Her family are by her bedside and "wish to express their sincere thanks to everyone, all over the world, for their heartfelt thoughts, prayers, and well wishes," the statement said, according to The Toronto Star.

"Sarah is a very strong young woman and she will most certainly fight to recover."

The 29-year-old Burke is widely considered the foremost pioneer for her main sport of freestyle halfpipe. She lobbied aggressively to have it included in the Olympics, where it will debut in 2014.

"She not only gave the sport legitimacy but opened the door into a much broader spectrum," said Peter Judge, the CEO of Canada's freestyle skiing program.

She is a four-time Winter X Games champion and had been scheduled to defend her 2011 title later this month in Aspen, Colo.

Burke fell while training at a personal sponsor event at the Park City Mountain resort, an accident that witnesses said didn't look as bad as it turned out to be, Judge said. She was on the same halfpipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury after a near-fatal fall on Dec. 31, 2009.