7 world-class competitive skiers who died
The perils of skiing are once again headline news, after the death of Toronto racer Nik Zoricic during a World Cup event in Switzerland on Saturday.
The 29-year-old alpine skier missed the final jump during a skicross race at Grindelwald and slammed into safety nets along the side of the course. He was airlifted to a local hospital with head injuries but died soon after.
Here’s a look at other skiers who died while competing in international events or in practice.
Giacinto Sertorelli (1938)
This downhill racer was an Italian champion who competed in the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. During a 1938 race in Garmisch, the 24-year-old Sertorelli tried to navigate an unmarked slope and hit a tree. He died in hospital.
Michel Bozon (1970)
A French alpine skier, Bozon was killed at Megève in France during a World Cup downhill event. The 3,328-metre course is notoriously difficult – it contains an 824-metre drop – and Bozon fell heavily, fracturing his skull and a thigh and dying later in hospital.
Joseph Walcher (1984)
This Austrian alpine skier finished his professional career in 1982, with a World Championship (1978) and five World Cup wins under his belt. He died during a benefit race in his hometown of Schladming.
Leonardo David (1985)
A promising Italian alpine skier, David was renowned for a signature "hop" he did between gates. He often complained about headaches, which are thought to have contributed to his fall, just a few metres from the finish line, during a pre-Olympics event in Lake Placid, N.Y., in 1979. David went into a coma and died five years later at age 24.
Ulrike Maier (1994)
A two-time Super-G World Alpine Ski Champion from Austria, Maier broke her neck in a World Cup race in Garmisch and died a few days later in hospital. It was originally thought the 26-year-old Maier had hit a timing post, but a subsequent investigation found she crashed into a mound of snow that bordered the course.
Sarah Burke (2012)
The Barrie, Ont., native was a pioneer of the extreme sport of freestyle halfpipe, which she successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee to include in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. While training on a halfpipe for a sponsored event in Park City, Utah, on Jan. 10, Burke did a flip and landed on her head. She went into cardiac arrest and was transferred to a hospital, where she underwent surgery to repair a torn vertebral artery. She succumbed to her injuries on Jan. 19.