Family left with $550,000 in medical bills after skier's tragic death
By Lauren McNitt
Sarah Burke, a Canadian freestyle skier, died Thursday following an accident nine days before at the bottom of the superpipe during training in Utah.
The accident occurred at the Park City Mountain resort, where Burke suffered “irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood after cardiac arrest,” according to Burke’s publicist. Burke was 29.
Burke’s family is now faced with $550,000 in medical bills because of an insurance technicality. She had health coverage through the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, but the policy does not cover athletes while they compete in events not sanctioned by the association. At the time of her accident, Burke was competing in an event sponsored by Monster Energy, meaning the CFSA policy did not cover her.
CFSA CEO Peter Judge told the Vancouver Sun that there are likely some "portals and avenues" for the association to assist Burke’s family in paying for the bills. In addition, Judge said he would be surprised if Monster Energy does not have some kind of athlete coverage.
Burke’s agent and publicist have helped her family set up a website to raise funds to assist them in paying for her medical costs. So far the site has raised more than $170,000. The fund’s beneficiary is Burke’s husband, Rory Bushfield, also a freestyle skier.
Burke, a six-time Winter X Game champion, was set to defend her title later this month in Aspen, Colo. In addition, she had lobbied successfully to get the ski halfpipe added to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, where she likely would have been a favorite for the gold medal.