Two freak accidents within two months of each other have claimed the lives of young Canadian athletes; first freestyle skier Sarah Burke, and now Skicross racer Nik Zoricic, who passed away on Saturday after a crash on the final jump during the race in Switzerland. Both were 29 years old.
According to the ski federation in a statement, Zoricic did well during the race, but as he neared the eighth round he crashed hard into the safety netting on the side of the course. He was treated by doctors before being airlifted to a hospital at Interlaken, but was later pronounced dead as a result of "severe neurotrauma".
Skicross, which is a relatively new sport, has been labeled as dangerous by some and is known as "NASCAR on skis" in the competitive sports world. It involves four racers skiing down a hill laden with bumps and ridges. Despite the dangers, officials say they feel confident that every precaution was taken to ensure the athlete's safety and that this was purely an accident that turned out to be fatal.
Max Gartner, president of Alpine Canada, said, "I would say it's a freak accident, from here. It doesn't happen often, but it's devastating. We look at all our athletes as members of our family, so it's hard."
Alpine Canada released a statement regarding the young athlete's death, and offered their condolences to friends, fans, and family via Twitter.
Ski cross racer Nik Zoricic passed away today after a crash at a WC race in Switzerland. Our thoughts are with Nik’s parents and his family.
Some of those familiar with the sport and the intimidating course, located in Grendelwald, Switzerland, feel the accident could have been prevented. Todd Brooker, a former top Canadian Alpine skier who once suffered his own devastating crash, is afraid that officials are just "making up the sport as they go along". As reported on TheGlobeAndMail.com, Brooker has also spoken out against the course itself, fearing that the jump placed right near the end of the course is unnecessarily dangerous. Fans and friends used Twitter to send condolences and to vent their grief.
We began the semester lamenting over Sarah Burke and ended with Nik Zoricic. In between, I hope my students pondered the “why of sport”?
Tragic year for Canadian skiers. First we lose Sarah Burke, now Nik Zoricic. Our thoughts and prayers go out to friends and family.
First Sarah Burke, now Nik Zoricic. What an awful year for Canadian winter sports so far.
Candian skicross racer Nik Zoricic dies after crash during race in Switzerland. Just 29. Two Canadian skiers gone in one winter. Awful.
So upset to hear about my friend & former teammate Nik Zoricic. A great guy, loved skiing & a huge loss to all of Canada. He will be missed.
As reported earlier today, Arnold Schwarzenegger's son Patrick was also in a skiing accident over the weekend in Tahoe. The 18 year-old received treatment for injuries but is expected to fully recover.