I’m not sure why, but I often feel compelled to write something on this rarely-updated blog of mine when something bad happens. Maybe the best way I deal with tragedy is by putting words to paper or maybe it just doesn’t feel right to keep quiet. This week, pro skier Sarah Burke crashed in the halfpipe in Utah, doing a normal thing she does every day — nothing extreme or unusual, for her anyway. Despite what other journalists are saying about her crash, no, I don’t believe it’s an indication that action sports have gotten “too extreme.” I think it was just the world’s worst kind of bad luck. Sarah was seriously injured in the crash, which I’ve been covering for ESPN. She’s currently in critical condition at a hospital in Utah with what doctors are describing as a traumatic brain injury.
No brain injury is the same and I am by no means an expert, but I have had some experience with a traumatic brain injury, not my own, but my brother’s. It was 2005 and we were skiing together when the accident happened. Much like Sarah, my brother was airlifted to a trauma center, underwent surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain, and then placed in an induced medical coma. Sitting by his bed in the intensive care unit was one of the most difficult things I’ve done. My brother is 100 percent recovered today. It was not a quick or easy recovery and it took months and years of family support, rehabilitation, surgical operations and sleepless nights. Mountain Magazine just recently published an essay I wrote about my experience with my brother’s head injury. You can find it here, in the article titled Guilt.
I wish Sarah and her family the best during this tough time.