Sarah Burke: Tributes to freestyle skier pour in from around the world

Freestyle skiers from around the world have reacted with shock to the death of Canadian competitor Sarah Burke.

Burke, 29, suffered irreversible brain damage in a training accident in Park City, Utah on 11 January.

Upon hearing the news, British halfpipe champion Katie Summerhayes said on Twitterexternal-link: "RIP Sarah Burke. Can't believe I was training with her last month. Such sad news. I honestly cannot speak right now."

Burke was the sport's best-known name.

Credited by many as playing a huge role in bringing freestyle skiing into the Winter Olympics, Burke was tipped to be a medal contender at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

She specialised in skiing the superpipe - a version of a traditional halfpipe with walls over 5m (16ft) high.

On 11 January she crashed on the same superpipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury during a training accident in late 2009.

"This couldn't be any bigger a loss to the sport," Great Britain freestyle skiing halfpipe team leader Pat Sharplesexternal-link told the BBC.

"She helped pioneer it and inspire not just women but men to get involved with it. She was the girl everyone looked to for leadership and how far you could push it.

"It's absolutely horrendous - you just can't expect things like this to happen, but it's a dangerous sport and things can happen. She helped create this sport and she loved it."

Nicole Wool, Burke's spokeswoman, said: "The family expresses their heartfelt gratitude for the international outpouring of support they have received from all the people Sarah touched.''