It took only a day and the family of deceased freestyle skier Sarah Burke had already received enough money through donations to offset any medical expenses.
A statement released Friday said any money left after those bills were paid would “be used to establish a foundation to honour Sarah’s legacy and promote the ideals she valued and embodied.”
The written statement was prepared by her agent Michael Spencer and released by the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.
Burke died Thursday at the age of 29 in a Utah hospital. She crashed Jan. 10 in Park City, Utah, while training in a halfpipe.
The Olympic gold-medal hopeful and four-time Winter X Games champion tore one of the major arteries supplying blood to her brain and went into cardiac arrest.
She underwent surgery and spent nine days on life support but had suffered irreversible brain damage after the fall because of lack of oxygen and blood to the brain.
A fundraising website, www.giveforward.com/sarahburke, was set up by Spencer to help offset medical costs and related expenses.
By Friday afternoon it had already raised more than $160,000 and money was still coming in. A companion site had been set up and it recorded donations of more than $40,000.
The goal was originally set at $550,000 but the statement issued by the federation said the total charges for her care were now expected to be in the $200,000 range, although the hospital bill hadn’t been received.
“Once charges are finalized, the university will work with Health Canada to determine what type of coverage may be available and what their contribution will be, as Sarah is a Canadian citizen. …” the statement from Spencer said.
“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.”
There are medical insurance programs in place for athletes competing inside and outside Canada.
The Canadian Athlete Insurance Program covers many athletes, said vice-president Mike Kirsch. They are enrolled by their federations.
“The out-of-Canada insurance will follow the athletes 24 hours a day while they’re out of the country,” he said.
Enrolment is only through sports federations and they pay the premiums, although they may charge that back to the athletes if they wish, Kirsch said.
“When there is a claim someone from the sport body has to sign off on the claim.”
Coverage would not apply if the athlete was on their own time but training could be covered, he added.
“Basically speaking, if it’s approved by the sport then the athlete is covered.”
Out-of-country reimbursement was raised to $500,000 last year. AthletesCan also offers health insurance for national team members.
Messages left with the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association for an explanation on how the programs might have applied in Burke’s case were not immediately returned.
Burke, who was born in Barrie, Ont., and grew up in nearby Midland before moving to Squamish, B.C., crashed while training with a private group in advance of the Winter X Games.
She was considered a pioneer in her sport. Burke lobbied to add superpipe skiing to the Winter Games program and her arguments won over Olympic officials.
IOC president Jacques Rogge expressed sadness Friday over her death but said freestyle skiing is no more dangerous than other winter sports.
“It was with enormous sadness that I learned of the death of Sarah Burke,” Rogge said. “She was a fine athlete doing the sport she loved. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time.”
Superpipe skiing will make its Olympic debut in two years in Russia, where Burke likely would have been a favourite for the gold medal.
Rogge said there are “always risks attached to sport.” However, he added that “thorough research has shown that freestyle skiing is no more dangerous than many of the other winter sports.”
With files from The Associated Press