Breaking the Ankle, Tibula and Fibula!

La Grave

 My 5 weeks traveling in Europe were amazing! I was able to do a bunch of skiing/climbing that made me nervous and made for such great memories. I was so excited to come home to the nice spring weather and the off season of Jackson. I was ready to focus on my business, get some skiing in the Winds and the Tetons and prepare for a long summer of work on the river, staying strong for ski season and riding my horses. Life was going so well and I could not get over how lucky I was to have a job I love, amazing friends, and family. I also finally had the chance to realize that I was the Freeskiing World Tour Champion! I could not believe that I had made it through the winter injury free and feeling stronger than ever, especially after some of the areas I had skied and climbed.

 Last Wednesday I had a break between my classes and training. It was a beautiful day and I had not been on my mountain bike much, since I had only been home a week.  I was so excited to ride putt putt trail to sidewalk trail one of my favorite early season rides. I realized at the parking lot that I had forgotten my helmut, but figured I would just take it easy and cruise, it was something I had ridden a million times. I was cruising along day dreaming about my ski trip to the winds that weekend and possible ski adventures in the Tetons. As I was riding down the Cache Creek road about half way thru my ride,  I thought there was a new entrance to the sidewalk trail, so at the last minute I slammed on my brakes and went to turn right. The gravel on the cache creek road did not like my decision as my back tire skidded out from underneath me and I was airborne sideways.

knee where rod was inserted

 As I came down I felt my right lower leg take the entire impact and my foot release from the pedals. I sat up and saw that my foot was facing the wrong direction and the tibia was pulsating toward the skin. The pain was excruciating and my leg was mangled. I called 911 right away and as I did two ladies were running down the trail, one being Jen Sparks from search and rescue. ( I think that is her name) The other I can not remember, but thank goodness for their help. They helped stabilize me on the ground, I had just taken my wilderness first aid course and it was so weird actually being the patient not playing that patient in scenarios we had practiced for hours. I was really lucky to not have hit my head or my spine, I always wear my helmut but that day was an exception.

The ambulance was able to drive right to me which was so lucky, because I was having a hard time remaining conscious with the pain. The EMTs, paramedics and doctors were amazing on the scene. I felt so lucky to be so cared for and so quickly. Once I had some pain medicine it really helped me to function. Dr. Rork showed me my x-rays that showed I had a broken my ankle, Tibia and fibula (same leg that I had broken my fibula on last year) He said I would need to go in for surgery right away to protect everything. I was still in such shock with what had happened I did not even know what to think. I went in for surgery within an hour and woke up to nausea and intense pain.

Rod helping stabilize Tibia

This started my 5 night hiatus in the hospital that was some of the most challenging of my life. I have never done well with  pain medications and anesthesia so that first night was challenging. The next day I was told that the surgery had not worked the way they had wanted and there was still some gaps in the ankle area so they needed to go back in and tighten up the screws. This was a little disheartening, but I just wanted my leg to heal properly. The support I had from my clients, friends and family was amazing. I could not have gotten through this without the support. I went in for another surgery that was supposed to be 2 hours and ended up being a very vigorous 5 hour surgery because of complications removing the original rod.

Ankle staples keeping everything intact
View of screws keeping ankle together

The Doctors ended up having to replace the rod and redo all the screws. This was not expected, but changed once they were operating. The next couple nights between the pain pill side effects and pain itself were incredibly hard. I could not have gotten through it without the help of my boyfriend, family and the community. I have a long road ahead of me and hope to try and focus on other things and realize how lucky I  am for it to only be my leg.

 I just wanted to share my story, because it is amazing how fast your life can change. I never want to take anything for granted and always appreciate life. I thought after getting through my ski season I would be in the clear, but things happen so fast. Now I just look forward to a fast and successful recovery so I can be back doing normal activities and be back for ski season. Thank you everyone for all the love.


  1. You are such an amazing lady, Crystal. I can only imagine how disappointed you are, but you will heal and be as strong as ever. Enjoy this down time with your family and friends. Hope to see you soon.

    Yvonne Robertson

  2. Crystal, your post wakes memories up my mind.
    I send you all positive vibes for your healing.
    The beginning is always a bit frustrating, I felt like I would never be able to charge again. But as soon as you’ll start rehab, you’ll feel it, you’ll be even stronger as you used to be.
    All the best ! Never give up !

  3. Jeb Stuart says:

    I am thinking of you often, and wishing you the most painless and speedy recovery possible. You are one of the strongest and most amazing ladies I know. Stay positive.

  4. Rob LaPier says:

    Wow. I’m glad you are ok. I can only imagine the struggles… Your scharacter will be that much stronger for enduring them. The body is capable of amazing things and you will overcome this. Big hugs and high 5’s to you and Brian.

  5. Dawn Meckem says:

    I hope you’re feeling better today! I’m thinking of you and how much you inspire me, practically every day, how you have brought me into your stoke and shown me how to push through my discomfort – to the other side, the strength I never knew I had inside me, I’m so grateful to know you and I hope there is some way I can help YOU for a change! You just let me know what you need girlfriend..

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