Waiting for Superwoman Sally

Sally Francklyn goes back to Jackson Hole

Sally in Grand Targhee last winter. PHOTO: JOEL GRATZ

Update: The fundraiser was a huge success. The auction raised over $15,000, and sounds like it was a pretty solid party, too. If you’d like to see the video Sally put together for the event you can check it out at Superwomansally.com.

There are some phone calls you never want to get. Last March 24th I got one of those. I was patrolling at A-Basin, where the cell service is thin. Around noon, when some bars popped through, I had a message from my friend Julie in Jackson. "Sally had a really bad fall," she said. "They're flying her to the hospital in Idaho Falls. We're trying to get a hold of her parents, do you have their number?" I didn't. I called her roommates, her friends, the ski patrol headquarters at Copper, where she volunteer patrolled, and where her dad's ski pass had been scanned that morning, trying to track down her parents. And then I waited, hoping the next call I got wouldn't be bad.

The past eight months have been full of waiting. After her fall and the head injury she sustained, Sally spent almost a month in an induced coma in Idaho Falls, so everyone who loved her, and her skiing world, waited for her to open her eyes and wiggle her fingers. We waited for the winter to end, hoping nothing would happen to anyone else we cared about. Brain injuries are tricky and slow, so we waited for emails and Facebook updates from her parents--who brought her home to Colorado--and then from Sally herself, about how she was doing, how much farther she could walk each day, how the pieces of her body and mind were knitting themselves back together. Now, some of the waiting is over. Sally's going back to Jackson.

This Saturday, at the Pink Garter in Jackson, there's a celebration for Superwoman Sally Francklyn. It's a benefit for the Teton County Search and Rescue and Jackson Hole Ski Patrol, the two groups who responded to Sally in the backcountry. Chris Denny, Sally's boss who is helping to organize the event, says they've got a ton of auction and raffle prizes, so it would be worth going for that alone, but it's also a party and a chance to see Sally.

It seems like a lot of people who ski know Sally, but if you don't, you can watch this and understand a lot about her. She was an editor at SKI and Skiing magazines (where I used to work with her), a patroller, a recent Jackson Hole transplant. She's a magnet; people love Sally. I have never seen so many boys crush so hard. She's one of my best friends and my favorite people to ski with, because she pushes it just the right amount. She was good at knowing when to hammer and when to back down.

So when she fell down Once is Enough couloir in the Jackson Hole sidecountry last spring, shattering her helmet, fracturing her skull, and breaking a bunch of her bones, it was devastating. Skiers everywhere learned last winter that shitty things happen to good people, but Sally's accident felt particularly unfair.

After she fell, and as we all waited--trying to be supportive, trying to be patient, trying to think the best--a groundswell started. People started calling her Superwoman Sally, and themselves her sidekicks. They sent her parents meals and pieces of artwork. They got together to make her videos. There were a whole lot of prayers. That was the light in a really terrible situation: the community, the upwelling of support, and the huge number of people who were behind Sally.

And that's what the party on Saturday is about, the people who have helped along the way, from the first responders to the Facebook friends. Sally's recovery has been slow and hard, and it's far from over, even though she's pushing it every day, but Saturday there will be a bunch of people in Jackson celebrating how far she's come. Eventually, she wants to be on the mountain skiing, but for now she says she can settle for being back in the mountains.

Sal says she has her eye on some of the Flylow gear in the auction, and that she's looking forward to finally meeting the people who took care of her in the Idaho Falls hospital. "I'm very excited to see my friends in Jackson that I haven't seen," she says.

Details about the event are here. If you can't make it, there's an online auction as well, or you can donate directly to the fund.