Remembering Fallen Athletes

Sarah Burke, 1982-2012

Today I will stray from the topic running a bit. The March/April 2012 issue of Impact Magazine arrived in the mail last week, complements of the editor for an article I’d written. When I flipped through the magazine, a picture of an attractive young woman caught my attention on the last page. The article, “Alpine Royalty,” was about a visit that preeminent female half-pipe skier Sarah Burke made to Impact Magazine. I don’t follow freestyle skiing close enough to recognize her name, but it became grippingly apparent that she was the skier I’d read about who died after a terrible crash during a training run in Park City, Utah this past January. Sarah was a four-time gold medalist at the X-Games and successfully championed to have her sport included in the Winter Olympics.

Ryan Shay, 1979-2007

The death of an athlete strikes at the heart of the entire sports community, because we lose one of our own. I remember the shock I felt when Ryan Shay collapsed near mile six of the 2007 Olympic marathon trials in New York City. The sports world stood still that afternoon. And I’m old enough to remember when Len Bias died of cardiac arrest two days after he was selected as the second overall pick in the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics. He was only twenty-two. There are many more stories of fallen athletes. If you are so inclined, add their stories to the comments below. A sort of Memory Wall, if you will.

Read “Alpine Royalty,” about a great athlete and remember Sarah when you see those fearless freestyle skiers in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

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About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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