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Conference to update freeskier Sarah Burke's condition cancelled

Family want more tests done before updating medical condition



The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association has cancelled a scheduled news conference this morning (Jan.16) on freeskier Sarah Burke's condition.

"Late last night, Rory Bushfield, Sarah's husband, and members of her family met with physicians to discuss the results of Sarah's most recent neurological tests and assessments," states a press release.

"Based on the information they received, we regret to inform you that they have decided to cancel today's press conference in order for further tests to be conducted this morning and in the coming days.

"The family wants to express its deep appreciation for the overwhelming support Sarah has received from all over the world. The family ask that media, fans and friends continue to keep Sarah and Rory in their prayers. Rory and Sarah's family remain at the hospital."

The accident occurred on Tuesday afternoon, Jan.10 while Burke was completing a training run in Park City, UT. According to reports, the 29-year-old X Games champion landed on her feet but fell over, hitting her head on the hard-packed snow. Ski patrol performed first aid and she was quickly fitted with a respirator and breathing tube before she was airlifted to Salt Lake City Hospital for emergency treatment.

CBC is reporting today (Jan.16) that Burke went into cardiac arrest immediately following her accident. She was resuscitated by first responders.

Burke remains at the University of Utah Hospital in critical condition under close monitoring by a multidisciplinary team coordinated by neurointensivist Safdar Ansari, M.D.

" Sarah remains in critical condition in the Neuro Critical Care Unit," said Ansari last week. "With traumatic brain injury, our care is focused on addressing the primary injury and preventing secondary brain damage, as well as managing other injuries sustained at the time of the accident; all of which requires close monitoring and intensive care. At this moment, Sarah needs more time before any prognosis can be determined."

Pro skier Meg Olenick of Colorado reported through Twitter Friday that Burke flutters her eyelids and her heart rate increases when people speak to her. Olenick’s original message is no longer visible but many users of the social media platform have shared her note. Burke’s family has asked that Twitter users show support for her by including “#BelieveInSarah” in Twitter messages published about Burke.

Burke has already successfully come through surgery to address bleeding between her brain and her skull.

"On Wednesday (Jan.11), she underwent an ... operation to repair a tear to her vertebral artery, which resulted in an intracranial hemorrhage at the time of her fall," said a statement released by the Canadian Ski Association earlier.

The surgery was performed by William T. Couldwell, M.D. Ph.D., professor and chair of Neurosurgery at University of Utah performed the operation to repair the artery.

The vertebral arteries are the major arteries of the neck, which supply blood to the brain. In this case the tear occurred in a part of the artery that was within the skull.

"With injuries of this type, we need to observe the course of her brain function before making definitive pronouncements about Sarah's prognosis for recovery," said Couldwell. "Our Neuro Critical Care team will be monitoring her condition and response continuously over the coming hours and days."

Fans may continue to use Sarah's Facebook page at to express their wishes and receive updates.

Burke is arguably the best-known female freeskier in the world with four X Games titles to her credit, as well as wins in most of the other major halfpipe events. She has pushed the progression of the sport further than any other female athlete, and was the first female to land 720, 900 and 1080 spins in halfpipe competition, as well as various inverted and corked tricks. When the International Olympic Committee confirmed that ski halfpipe would be in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Burke was instantly the favourite to win the gold.

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