According to Freeskier Magazine and the Sierra Sun newspaper, freeskier Arne Backstrom, younger brother of Ingrid Backstrom, passed away yesterday after a fall in Peru. Backstrom was on a ski mountaineering trip with Sweetgrass Productions when the accident took place. He was 29.
Sources close to the family say that Backstrom and his team were in South America to attempt a descent of the southeast face of Artesonraju, a 5,999 meter peak in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range a part of the Peruvian Andes. The accident, however, took place during an acclimation day on a smaller sub-peak. On the trip were Arne, Kip Garre, Dave Rosenbarger and Jamie Laidlaw -- all experienced ski mountaineers.
Backstrom, a rising star on the competitive big mountain scene, gained momentum this past season with a number of breakout performances in contests and on camera. In addition to winning the McConkey Cup and becoming the '09/10 Freeskiing World Tour champion, he filmed his second straight segment with Warren Miller Entertainment and a part with Matchstick Productions.
"It's definitely sad ... it's one of those things where it's hard to believe", said Squaw Valley skier and Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso. "It just goes to show you how much passion these guys have; they're out there every day pushing the limits. My heart goes out to the Backstrom family".
"Skiing is a beautiful way to travel in alpine terrain. It provides access to amazing places while leaving only a fleeting trail and allows one to interact with a huge amount of terrain in a short period of time. It allows effortless speed and grace over what would otherwise be scarcely navigable terrain. It's a simple game of resisting and manipulating gravity, and is made possible by the most vital of substances. I am continually amazed and always grateful that this crazy sport exists and has progressed to its current state. It should be encouraging to all that the smoothest, best skiers on the mountain are almost always the older guys and gals who have perfected the art of matching speed and turn shape with snow and terrain. With the right amount of power and control, skiing is low impact, a great workout, and can be practiced for a lifetime" (Arne Backstrom, 1980-2010).
Arne Backstrom winning run from the 2010 Freeskiing World Tour comp in Revelstoke BC (January, 2010)
Warren Miller Ski Films - Shoots at Heavenly with Arne Backstrom (February, 2010)