Fracture Friday: Blake Hanks the bootfitter refuses to cut boot

Blake Hanjs
Fracture Fridays
After-surgery x-ray of Hanks’ leg.
Blake Hanks/Courtesy image

The injury

On February 7, 2021, I was skiing in the trees in one of my favorite places headed across and going to another section. I came around a tree, wiped my goggles off – there was bad visibility and it was snowing hard – and smacked into the wall of a gully. My right ski came off, my left ski embedded and my leg twisted 180 degrees.

I yelled at my buddy to get me out of my binding. He did, and I jammed my leg in the snow to keep it from swelling. He called the patrol and two new patrollers found us in about 15 minutes.

We were in a deep ravine, and they loaded me in a sled and weren’t sure how to get me out. My buddies ski tracked a path out for them. They got me down to base area and had an ambulance there to take me to a hospital in McCall, Idaho.

They wanted to cut my boot off, and I told them I’m a professional bootfitter and with some help I can get it off. We did and it hurt! I was operated on that afternoon: 20 fractures, titanium rod, nine screws and plates.

Blake walks the dog, on crutches.
Blake Hanks/Courtesy photo

The recovery and redemption

After nine months of walking, 2,000 miles on my mountain bike and daily pool and lake workouts, I am back.

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I hit day 50 on March 4, and I would say I’m about 90%. Not bad for a 71 year old crazy who has skied all of his life. I love this sport and don’t plan on quitting anytime soon.


Injuries are a common topic in mountain communities. We tend to push ourselves to the point of having them. If you have an on-mountain or sports-related injury, we want you to share the story of your injury, recovery and redemption (and if you’re currently injured, we want to hear your plans for the last two).

To read more Fracture Friday stories and to share yours, visit And be sure to check the paper every Friday for the latest Fracture Friday.

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