Canadian skier dies in Swiss race
By RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency
GRINDELWALD, SWITZERLAND - Tragedy struck the Canadian ski community again on Saturday morning.
Toronto-born ski cross racer Nik Zoricic was killed after crashing in the finish area during the fourth heat of the ski cross finals of a World Cup race in Grindelwald, Switzerland.
The accident came two months to the day after freestyle skier Sarah Burke, of Barrie, Ont., was seriously injured while training in Park City, Utah. Burke died nine days later.
Zoricic, 29, suffered head injuries and was airlifted to hospital. He was pronounced dead at 12:35 p.m. CET with the cause of death ruled as “severe neurotrauma.”
Alpine Canada president Max Gartner was reeling from the news.
“It’s a very difficult hour for alpine ski racing in Canada,” Gartner said on a conference call.
“Everybody in the organization is just devastated. We have been working since four this morning to assess exactly what happened. Nik crashed into safety nets after he completed his fourth jump. No other racers were involved.”
Gartner said the rest of the team remained on the mountain with grief counselors and planned a candlelight ceremony in Zoricic’s honour.
Sunday was to be the final race of the season, but instead the plan was for additional ceremonies.
Zoricic was part of a well-known skiing family. His father, Bebe, is a renowned coach who coached both Nik and Olympic gold medalist Ashleigh McIvor when they were 13 years old and just starting out.
“When we’re on the road together, those guys are like my brothers,” McIvor said.
“Obviously this is absolutely horrible.”
Both Gartner and McIvor brushed aside safety concerns.
“There are risks associated with our sport. I’ve unfortunately lost a lot of friends in the mountains,” admitted McIvor.
“(But) they overdue it on making the course safer. (Organizers) do their absolute best to make it safe. Don’t think any fingers should be pointed at any of the organizations. Wo it because we love it, there are risks associated. Only so much we can do.”
“These accidents are extremely rare. There is going to be an investigation. Safety is in the forefront of the organization,” he said.
“I’m assuming all the protocols have been followed … (It’s) not fair to make a statement (on the safety aspect). To make an assessment from afar is probably not appropriate.”