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Nik Zoricic's death brings to question risks of freestyle skiing


OTTAWA (AP) -- The president of the Canadian Olympic Committee says it's too soon to say whether the push to include extreme sports like skicross in the Olympics is creating undue risks for athletes.

Marcel Aubut spoke Tuesday in the aftermath of the deaths two months apart of Nik Zoricic and Sarah Burke.

Zoricic died from head injuries after flying off the course and crashing in a World Cup skicross event in Grindelwald, Switzerland, on Saturday. In January, Burke, a Canadian freestyle skier, died following an accident during training in Utah.

"We don't know exactly what happened in those cases," Aubut said. "We're not prepared to comment until we know the facts."

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Skicross debuted at the 2010 Olympics, joining snowboard cross in the latest attempt by the International Olympic Committee to bring a more exciting, youthful feel to the games. It's known as "NASCAR on skis," with four racers attacking a course filled with banks, rolls and ridges.

Burke's sport of ski halfpipe is set to debut at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

Appearing in Ottawa for a funding announcement, Aubut asked the crowd to pause for 30 seconds of silence to honor both athletes.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with these two dynamic individuals who in pursuing excellence in sports push themselves to reach for the pinnacle of success," he said. "In doing so, they have made themselves, their family and their country very proud."