Finding Power on the Powder: Paralympian Michelle Salt’s Transplant Triumph
Advocacy Paralympian Michelle Salt shares what motivated her to get back on a snowboard after an accident resulted in limb loss.
32-year-old Michelle Salt always knew she wanted to be a professional snowboarder, but an accident in June 2011 almost kept her from fulfilling her dream.
“I hit a guardrail on my motorcycle doing 120 kilometers an hour,” Michelle recalls. After breaking multiple bones and almost bleeding to death, she spent seven days on life support, eventually losing 75 percent of her right leg. Such a devastating ordeal would traumatize most people — but Michelle is not most people.
“I knew my life was never going to be the same and that I had a long road ahead of me,” she shares. “But it didn’t take very long for me to realize that there were new opportunities being presented to me.”
Michelle credits her family with giving her the drive to push through.
“When I had my accident, they were by my side within 16 hours,” she says. “They had a clear vision of what my life was going to be like as an amputee. They knew that it was going to be one with meaning. They’d sit by my side when I was on life support and tell me that I was going to do something bigger.”
Within 24 hours of learning of her amputation, Michelle decided that she would become a Paralympian. “My emotions quickly changed from being sad and feeling sorry for myself to having this goal and giving myself a reason to push forward and get through my recovery,” she explains.
Despite this renewed sense of drive, Michelle admits that finding her “new normal” wasn’t easy. “For me, one of the hardest things to conquer was the stairs,” she admits with a laugh. “I still struggle with stairs. But it wasn’t like I was going to not go to places because I knew that there was a set of stairs.”
Before the accident, Michelle had only competed in a few local competitions. It wasn’t until her brush with death that she received the opportunity to represent Canada in the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games.
“Competing was surreal,” she laughs. “It was an overwhelming moment and very humbling, because I knew I couldn’t do it without the support of so many others. Winning my first medal on home soil was very heartwarming. Everyone around me saw that I was pushing for it, and being able to make it happen was very cool.”
What does the future hold for Michelle? More hard work and determination.
“I haven’t been competing much, but I had a great season last year,” she boasts. “I am still one of Canada’s potentials for the 2018 games. I am working hard to get on that podium, and even if I don’t make the podium, I’m going to give it my all and do whatever I must to ride my best.”