It's been a tragic season for Canadian sports with the passing of freeskier Sarah Burke as a result of a head injury on Jan. 19, and the recent death of ski cross racer Nik Zoricic from a head injury on Mar. 10 in Switzerland. Both athletes represented Canada at the highest level and had set their sights on winning Olympic medals in 2014.
Ken Read, director of winter sports for Own The Podium, called the events tragic and said his organization worked with the teams to provide emergency support.
However, there are no plans to investigate the deaths internally, or any of the injury issues that have plagued Canadian national teams in recent years.
"There is always an evaluation of these things going on inside the international federations, and all of them do injury monitoring — and it goes beyond that where everything is evaluated and reported," said Read. "In (the case of Zoricic) there is also an investigation by Swiss authorities and a coroner's report, as well as a full investigation by FIS and authorities."
As for injuries, Alpine Canada hosted an injury summit in the spring and invited ski agencies at all levels to participate, as well as other sports organizations.
Overall, while Canada seems to have been particularly hard hit with injuries and two fatalities, Read says there's nothing in the statistics to indicate that a higher number of athletes are being injured — outside of alpine skiing, where a FIS investigation has resulted in plans to change ski designs.
Zoricic's funeral took place Monday, March 19 in Toronto. The team is accepting donations on behalf of Zoricic to support young athletes in Canada.
For more on OTP's reaction, visit www.piquenewsmagazine.com.