Last week, the ski world was dealt a shock to the system after another speed skier lost his life while skiing in Canada. Just weeks after veteran French speed skier David Poisson died during training in Nakiska, Max Burkhart, a teenager from Germany who was in the U.S. attending Sugar Bowl Academy in Norden, California, died following a horrible crash during the men’s NorAm downhill competition in Lake Louise on Dec. 5. Burkhart was stabilized following the crash and transported to a hospital in Calgary where he passed away from his injuries the following day.
As racers and the ski racing community around the world have begun to deal with the tragedy, and with the RCMP investigation still underway, racing continued in Lake Louise on Dec. 8 with a men’s and women’s super-G.
The schedule was condensed in Lake Louise with one training run for men and women being held Dec. 4 and racing starting the following day. According to FIS rules competitors must compete in at least one timed training run and it is the decision of the jury to reduce the number of training runs.
The women’s race was completed first, then the men. After Burkhart’s crash however, (he was wearing bib 68) the race was stopped. The FIS website has posted results for the men’s race on Dec. 5, indicating that though the race was terminated the FIS results will count and NorAm points will be scored. According to the FIS rules “for all interrupted or terminated competitions a full and detailed report is to be made by the TD to the FIS and the organizing National Ski Association.” The report must contain a well-founded recommendation as to whether the terminated competition is to be taken into consideration for FIS points or not.
The FIS website indicates that the training run scheduled for Dec. 5 was canceled and that the scheduled races for men and women the following day were also canceled. Sources, including Alpine Canada, contacted for comment and clarification on the schedule alteration and conditions of the course, declined to comment on the situation due to the ongoing investigation of Burkhart’s death being conducted by the RCMP.
In the women’s race, Canada swept the podium as Roni Remme took the downhill win with a time of 1:20.18. Stefanie Fleckenstein finished second, 0.24 seconds back and Georgia Burgess finished third, 1.39 seconds back.
Although she was at the University of Utah last year, Remme competed in the Lake Louise NorAms and with the additional experience of competing in the World Cup days before this year’s race; she was comfortable on the hill.
Remme said that Lake Louise is a challenging hill at the NorAm level. “The track is not groomed between the World Cup and NorAm races so the speeds are similar,” Remme said. She also explained that the sets between the two events are slightly different. “The NorAm race is set a little more technical in places and the finish line is brought up the hill to avoid one of the final jumps.”
Remme said that she was lucky to have been on the hill prior to the NorAm race.
Markus Duerager of Austria led the men’s race with a time of 1:16.70, followed by Canada’s James Crawford, who finished just 0.06 seconds back. Another Austrian, Daniel Hemetsberger, finished third, 0.13 second behind.
In the super G races, Remme took her second win of the season on Friday winning with a time of 1:11.77. Nina O’Brien of the U.S. Ski Team finished second, 0.72 seconds back, and American A.J. Hurt finished third, 0.95 seconds back.
Canadian development team athlete Sam Mulligan won the men’s Super G with a time of 1:09.01 followed by his compatriot, Tyler Werry, who took second place, 0.09 seconds back. Hemetsberger finished in third, 0.21 seconds behind.
NorAm racing continues in Panorama, British Columbia, this week with super-G, alpine combined, slalom, and giant slalom racing.
Full official results from the men’s and women’s NorAm races in Lake Louise are available here.
Ski Racing Media staff will continue to report on the death of Max Burkhart and the investigation being conducted by the RCMP. Marina Knight contributed reporting to this article.