The extreme sports world has been left in shock this year after the death of freestyle skiier Sarah Burke.
Canadian Sarah, 29, was an Olympics gold-medal favourite and four-time winner of the Winter X Games. The extreme sports enthusiast died of cardiac arrest and irreversible brain damage after a fall while training. She was on the same half-pipe that snowboarder Kevin Pearce crashed on in 2009, resulting in him suffering a traumatic brain injury.
Despite this history of injuries and deaths, Mark Bennett, director of http://www.extremestunts.co.uk/, says it’s the risk that draws people in to the most dangerous of sports: “What attracts people is the rush, the adrenaline. It’s all about that burn, it’s fantastic. I think it’s fair to say that we live in a nanny state, full of health and safety rules. It [extreme sports] provides me with an exhilarating release from my boring everyday life… Of course there are risks with extreme sports, there are with any sport… But you know what? It’s the risks that make it exciting, that’s what makes it extreme.”
Although Sarah and Kevin suffered their accidents while practicing snow sports, injuries and even deaths occur across all areas of extreme sports.
50-year-old Carol Gomez was left disabled for life after being in a near-fatal crash while microlighting: “I thought I was going to die as I came down. The aircraft went into a steep stall. I knew then I was in trouble”.
Foster carer Carol, of Ollerton, Notts, suffered multiple injuries as a result of the crash, including massive internal bleeding. She says that her doctors were baffled as to how she had survived. However, even after this near-miss, she still practices extreme sports, even sneaking out of her ward to complete a microlight flight over Bassetlaw Hospital.