Marcel Aubut, head of the Canadian Olympic Committee says the death of two Canadian skiers in the last three months is a reminder of risk inherent in competitive sport. Aubut spoke Tuesday in the aftermath of the deaths of Nik Zoricic and Sarah Burke two months apart. Nik Zoricic died from head injuries after crashing in the finish area during the fourth heat of the ski cross finals in Switzerland, on Saturday. In January, Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke died following a training accident in Park City, Utah.
“We don’t know exactly what happened in those cases,” Aubut said. “We’re not prepared to comment until we know the facts.” He also says it’s too soon to say whether the push to include extreme sports like skicross in the Olympics is creating these risks for athletes.
Skicross debuted at the 2010 Olympics, joining snowboard cross in the latest attempt by the International Olympic Committee to bring a more exciting, youthful feel to the games. Burke’s sport of ski halfpipe is set to debut at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
In January, the IOC rejected a joint offer from Bell and CBC to broadcast the next Winter Games and the 2016 Summer Games. Aubut believes the offer was rejected because it wasn’t high enough but he he thinks a deal will eventually come together.
Appearing in Ottawa for a funding announcement on Tuesday, Aubut asked the crowd to pause for 30 seconds of silence to honor both athletes.