By Tim Mutrie
Sarah Burke’s crash in the Park City Mountain Resort halfpipe nine days ago looked to one observer “like a crash a lot of us have taken before.” But this morning, Burke, 29, a beloved freeskiing champion and pioneer from Squamish, B.C., died from injuries sustained in the crash at the Salt Lake City hospital where she was being treated in the aftermath of the accident, according to a statement from a family spokesperson.
Professional halfpipe skier Pete Olenick, a close friend of Burke’s and her husband, Rory Bushfield, was fighting back tears when reached by phone today in Killington, Vt. Olenick had been skiing with Burke at the time of her Jan. 10 accident in Park City, and he kept vigil for three days at the hospital with Burke’s family and friends.
“I’m super bummed and sad. I feel bad for Sarah’s family, for Rory’s family, for everyone,” Olenick told Powder.com.
News of Burke’s death reached Olenick and fellow pro halfpipe skiers in Killington this afternoon, after a qualifying round of the Dew Tour event there had been completed. Olenick is slated to compete tomorrow (Friday) in the semifinals, but he said that “doesn’t matter to me anymore.”
“Nobody here really knows what to do,” Olenick said. “We’re all just hanging out together.” He added, “None of us are talking about skiing tomorrow or anything like that.”
Of Burke and Bushfield’s relationship, he said, “Those two were the perfect match. Nothing will ever be like that. We all wish we could be with Rory right now.”