Normandy Park Native Arne Backstrom Killed In Skiing Accident


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Free skiing professional Arne Backstrom, 29, a Normandy Park native and frequent skier at Crystal Mountain, has apparently been killed after a big-mountain fall in Peru.

According to a report on www.freeskier.com, the accident occurred Thursday (June 3) on Pisco Mountain in the Cordillera Blanca region of Peru, South America.

According to an email from his friend Josh Weiner, Arne grew up in Normandy Park, and attended Marvista Elementary and then Sylvester Middle School. He graduated from Highline High School in 1999 and then went on to attend Whitman College in Walla Walla.

Josh says that Arne also worked at the Normandy Park Swim Club in the summers was an outstanding athlete who swam for the same pool and at Highline.

He was also apparently an Eagle Scout with troop 392 at John Knox Presbyterian Church.

Photo from Arne's Facebook page.

“Too much to mention at once, he was an amazing guy,” Josh added in an email.

Arne’s sister, Ingrid, is considered by many to be the world’s best women’s free skier. His brother, Ralph, is a professional snowboarder.

The following excerpts are from Arne Backstrom’s biography at www.patagonia.com:

During my earlier ski days, my family rolled up to the mountains in a rusty brown 1954 GMC bookmobile. It was a grotesque machine in both looks and mechanics, but every Friday night from December to April, that neurotic old vehicle delivered our family of five the 100 miles from Seattle to Crystal Mountain and provided lodging for the weekend. My sister and brother and I would sit at the table/bed in the back and Mom gripped the dash from the co-pilot position while Dad worked the shifter and struggled to manage 26,000 lbs of momentum with less than adequate brakes. It was an eyesore, scary to drive, cold, and smelled funny, but when it snowed two feet we laughed and said it was paradise. It wasn’t luxury living, but it brought the family together, and we skied hard. I probably wouldn’t have wished it back then, but those days seem to have set the tone for my life thus far, at least in spirit. I still do whatever it takes to ski as much as I can.

After some years of tearing around the mountain finding secret trails and powder stashes, I began racing at 11. It was the logical next step and provided speed and adrenaline and taught me to push the limits. I enjoyed the competition, and the discipline was good, but I was still out freeskiing as much as possible, and I poached the “snowboard park” on occasion, too. I ski raced through college, and then with some hard-earned summer cash, took off to Europe and succeeded in spending a serious amount of time on snow, racking up lots of vertical in big terrain. Since then, the thought of a “real” job has been less and less attractive, and when winter comes around I put everything else aside.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes video of Arne from a Warren Miller film:

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Here’s one of Arne shot in Revelstoke in January:

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Some links of interest:

  • Interesting story on the Backstrom family here.
  • Arne had a blog here.
  • Arne’s Facebook page is here.
  • Facebook tribute page is here.

Our condolences go out to Arne’s family and friends.

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