Skier Sarah Burke called pioneer, trailblazer

Just days before the X Games were set to begin, athletes from around the world are mourning Sarah Burke.

The 29-year-old Canadian freestyle skier died on Thursday after spending more than a week in a medically induced coma. She crashed during training, severing an artery in her neck that caused bleeding on the brain and cardiac arrest.

Paramedics on the scene revived her, but she never recovered after having multiple surgeries to stop the bleeding.  A lack of oxygen to the brain caused her death.

"Sarah was the one who, in a very positive way, stood in the face of adversity and asked, ‘Why not?"' Peter Judge, the CEO of Canada's freestyle team, told CBS News. "What she would have wanted was for her teammates and others in her sport to stand up and also say, ‘Why not?’ To benefit from the significant opportunities available to them, being able to compete in the Olympics and the X Games. Those were the things she wanted and cherished and fought for."

More on GlobalPost: Sarah Burke's life in photos

The crash happened Jan. 10 in Park City, Utah, as Burke attempted a trick she frequently used in the superpipe competitions. Judge called it a “freak accident.”

Burke’s family was expecting a $200,000 medical bill, CTV News reported, so family members established a fundraising website,, to help with the costs. Burke was married to fellow freestyle skier Rory Bushfield.

It’s unclear if any of Burke’s care is covered by insurance, CTV said.

“Please consider helping them cover the enormous cost of Sarah's recent medical care and to provide for other arrangements by donating," the website states. "Your support in their greatest time of need will be gratefully appreciated and forever remembered."

By the end of today, the website had generated more than its goal.

Burke's publicist said any extra money raised would go towards establishing a legacy fund in the fallen skier's name.

“Because of the donations in the last day, it is now clear that Sarah’s family will not have any financial burden related to her care. Further contributions will be used to establish a foundation to honor Sarah’s legacy and promote the ideals she valued and embodied,” Nicole Wool told the National Post

Freestyle skiing athletes considered Burke a pioneer in the sport. She was a four-time X Games gold medalist and competed early in her career against men when there were no women’s superpipe events. She also lobbied successfully to have her event included in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"Sarah is probably the face behind women's halfpipe and even halfpipe in general," world champion freestyle aerialist Warren Shouldice told CTV. "Not only in Canada, but in the entire world. She probably lobbied harder than anyone to get it into the Sochi Games. To see her not being able to realize that dream of being an Olympian and competing in the sport she loves is a terrible tragedy.”

Athletes took to Twitter to grieve together, using the hashtag #RestInPeaceSarah, USA Today said.

"She was one of the most intelligent, beautiful, strong people I ever met in my entire life," U.S. halfpipe skier Simon Dumont told USA Today.

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