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.
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.