Shining Bright: Sally Francklyn is recovering and winter seems to hold hope once more. Courtesy of Sally Francklyn
Last year, I was done with skiing. The winter of 2011-2012 was horrific—not just in terms of the depressing lack of snow. It was a year with nothing but bad news in the ski community. First, legend Jamie Pierre died in a slide. Then we lost Olympic sweetheart Sarah Burke in a freak half-pipe accident. A 13-year-old died in a slide here in Colorado. A sidecountry avalanche in Washington killed friends and industry vets Jim Jack, Chris Rudolph and Johnny Brenan—I would have been skiing with them had I been there. Friend and AT-blogger extraordinaire , Steve Romeo died a few weeks later in yet another slide.
I didn’t feel bad at all ending my season. It simply was cursed. And the weather made it feel as if the true end was near—will climate change take the very sport out from under our feet? Skiing is part of the fabric of my life but I just didn’t care anymore.
And then Sally Francklyn took a fall in a no-fall zone at Jackson Hole, cartwheeling down hundreds of feet, shattering her skull and ending up in an induced coma. It crushed me hard not just because Sally is a friend, a writer who had just been assigned a story for this magazine, and simply a talented young, beautiful person. When I had written about Sarah Burke, I said we all needed to “live brave,” and Sally had reposted that. It resonated with her. How empty it seemed now.
Sally is a person of intense light—I don’t say that casually—and as she was fighting to live in an Idaho Falls hospital bed, an amazing thing happened. People from across the globe went out of their way to support her, to pray for her, to post on their Facebook walls and hers, willing for her to make it. They started calling her Superwoman Sally and themselves Sally’s Sidekicks. People in mountain towns everywhere put Superwoman Sally stickers on helmets, bumpers, lift towers… The fact is Sally Francklyn always did and does live brave—and it has nothing to do with slipping in a couloir or even the sport of skiing. But skiing was a part of her. And despite the accident, she has laughed and been inspired by the sport she loves and this community of people who love to fly down mountains as she slowly recovers.
Then one day this summer, it was 100 degrees and I was in the Target parking lot and it hit me, hard—I miss skiing. I miss the motion. The snow. The beauty of it. I miss it in my bones. I have to come back to it because I need it. Because everyone who we lost really would have wanted that. Because Sally wants that. Because it is ingrained in who we are. I have hope for this winter again. I am going to embrace it.
To check on Sally’s progress and the upcoming fundraiser for her in Jackson Hole, join the Super Woman Sally group on Facebook