UPDATED: Why isn't Sarah Burke's sponsor covering her medical bills?

Updates at bottom of article

Yesterday, Canadians were saddened by the news that freestyle skier Sarah Burke had passed away at the age of 29 after sustaining injuries while on a training run in Salt Lake City, Utah, for an event hosted by Monster Energy, one of her main sponsors.

But sadness has now turned to disbelief that the high-level athlete’s family is now facing a $550,000 medical bill. Apparently, Burke did not have any medical insurance for the Monster Energy event. Peter Judge, CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Skiing Association, told the CBC that its athletes are covered when competing for the association, but that in an unsanctioned event like the one in which Burke sustained her fatal injuries, coverage would likely be the responsibility of her sponsor.

Monster Energy has so far shown no signs of easing the financial burden of Burke’s medical costs. This morning I called their offices to ask whether they were considering covering the costs, and was met with a “no comment”.

Their website, to date, shows absolutely no acknowledgement of Sarah Burke’s injury or death. I inquired as to whether they would be updating their website with any information—a memorial page would be nice—and was again told “no comment.”

The closest thing on their site to a recognition that Burke is no longer with us was on the page devoted to the athlete, with links to her Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accounts. A single sentence under the Twitter link states, simply: No Recent Tweets.

Update: The U.S. version of Monster Energy's website still features no mention of Burke's accident and death, though the Canadian site does have two notes on the banner slideshow that initially greets visitors.

The first is a photo of Burke accompanied by the words "Best wishes to Sarah Burke and her family. We love you Sarah!" The second is another image of Burke, with the words "Ski in Peace" and a link to "Words from the Monster Energy family."

That link currently appears to be broken, however, leading to a 404 error message.

Update #2:

There is now a message on Monster Energy's News page. It reads:

Sarah Burke: Ski in Peace

Our deepest condolences go to Sarah’s husband, parents, family and friends and all who knew this talented athlete. All of us at Monster are deeply saddened by this tragedy.

Sarah was a freeskiing pioneer, a five-time X Games gold medalist and an inspiring, all-around role model, who was instrumental in helping to bring freestyle ski events to the Winter Olympic Games. Sadly, the accident occurred during the course of Sarah’s training, alongside other athletes, for upcoming winter competitions.

As soon as we learned about the accident, we offered uninterrupted support to Sarah and her family. Without hesitation, we will continue to support Sarah’s family, are working directly with them to assess their needs and are committed to helping them financially.

As a company, we are privileged to work with the world’s top athletes. Sarah epitomizes the essence and spirit of why we do what we do.



cranky mom

Jan 20, 2012 at 11:58am

It is time to boycott both Monster Energy Drink and Coca Cola. It is disgusting that a public flogging on social media may be what it takes to make them do the right thing!


Jan 20, 2012 at 12:19pm

hmph. I actually drink this canned gloop. Not anymore. So long Monster, you should have done the right thing right away.


Jan 20, 2012 at 12:23pm

And there you have the dark side to these new type of "sports," events that are barely disguised stunts promoted largely by these dubious "energy drinks." These sponsors encourage athletes to take unreasonable risks so that they can make millions... and then bail out when things go badly.


Jan 20, 2012 at 12:48pm

You would think they would at least offer to help the family, this is chimp change for these giant corporations. I would boycott Coke and Monster but I won't drink that GMO corn piss sloop for the sake of my health.

Get your shit together you Monsters

Jan 20, 2012 at 1:00pm

That drink tastes like shit. Those bitches better pay up and take responsibility. They made a shitty drink even shittier.


Jan 20, 2012 at 1:20pm

Monster Energy should be ashamed. I've been tracking each of the corporate sponsors today. All but Monster Energy has come up with memorial messages and also shared the fundraising link with their audiences. Monster Energy continues to self promote their products and events on their websites and facebook pages without any mention of Sarah Burke's death. As I said on another site post, I guess the MONSTER Lawyers are still in a meeting trying to figure out the wording of the message !


Jan 20, 2012 at 1:23pm

Like most reporters, this one (Jessica Werb) can't seem to distinguish between "no comment at this time" and "no".

A quicker response would have been nice, but the company is (I'm sure) consulting with its insurers before making a statement. That's how things work in a large corporation. If you don't get that ... well, you've never worked for a large corporation.

How to pay for Ms Burke's medical bill (which probably isn't even due yet) is hardly the story.


Jan 20, 2012 at 1:25pm

Unbelievable. They use her for all the promotion they can get, but then dismiss her at the first sign of trouble. No more Monster or Coca-Cola products for me ever again. Shame shame shame on you.


Jan 20, 2012 at 1:50pm

Monster Energy is not going to pay her medical expenses because they just spent a gazillion dollars sponsoring NASCAR's Kyle Busch Motorsports for Nationwide races.

This is disgusting considering Kyle Busch is a dirty and "bad boy" driver. Who speeds in school zones with high performance vehicles and gets a slap on the wrist. He also ran another driver into the racing wall last year because he was full of road rage. This was under a caution of the race.

His brother Kurt will also be racing the Monster car. He is a treasure too. He abusively cursed a media personality up and down. It was/is on YouTube. He is always using expletives on the car radio to his crew members.

Real treasures sucking up the Monster money. None for the people who really need it. RIP Sarah. xo