*Updated Wednesday afternoon
The tight-knit freeskiing community is rallying behind superstar Sarah Burke, who was seriously injured Tuesday afternoon during a halfpipe crash in Park City, Utah. She was airlifted to University Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she remains in a coma.
"Sarah sustained serious injuries and remains intubated and sedated in critical condition," Safdar Ansari, a specialist in neurocritical care at the hospital, said in a statement issued early Wednesday afternoon.
During a conference call, Canadian Freestyle Ski Assn. team doctor Robert Foxford said it was his understanding that Burke had been placed in a medically induced coma. "That would be the standard procedure for someone with a significant brain injury," Foxford said.
Burke's publicist issued this statement: "At this time, her family is asking that everyone respect their wishes of making Sarah's health and recovery a priority. The family will send an update once they have all the information. They are with her now."
Burke's husband, Rory Bushfield, added: "Sarah is a very strong young woman and she will most certainly fight to recover."
The Park City Mountain Resort halfpipe, or superpipe, is the same venue at which snowboarder Kevin Pearce was critically injured while training on Dec. 31, 2009. Pearce, who had been training for his Olympics debut, suffered traumatic brain injuries but has since recovered. Last month he rode a snowboard for the first time since his accident.
Positive and hopeful sentiments have flooded Burke's Facebook fan page wall. Most are of the tone issued by Mike Laroche in this post: "Sending all the love and support to Sarah and her family. You are an icon to the sport and a shining light to the world. Your spirit and strength will persevere, stay strong."
Athletes have been using Twitter to deliver best wishes and Trennon Paynter, coach of Canada's halfpipe team, tweeted this message: "Even while resting, her inner strength is clearly visible. Overcoming challenges is what she has always done best."
Burke, who is from Squamish, British Columbia, is the first female skier to have landed a 1080. She was instrumental in the lobbying effort to bring women's freeskiing to the X Games, and to the Olympics. In 2007 she was voted Best Female Action Sports Athlete at the annual ESPY Awards.
—Sarah Burke action photo is courtesy of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Assn. Bottom image if from the athlete's Facebook page