Remembering Arne Backstrom

Comments by Freeskier Magazine/

Arne Backstrom 1980-2010

Arne Backstrom passed away on June 3, 2010 while skiing in the Llanganuco Valley of the Cordillera Blanca, Peru, just two days into a month-long mountaineering expedition.

Arne was a quiet, unassuming person who let his skiing speak for him in many ways. He didn’t clamor for sponsors, film segments or awards, but they found him anyway. Blizzard, Tecnica, POC, Patagonia and Unofficial Squaw put him on their rosters, and he earned their support with a huge season last winter. He was named Freeskiing World Champion. He won the McConkey Cup and the Canadian Freeskiing Championships at Revelstoke. And he filmed with Warren Miller and Matchstick Productions.

Arne was a hero to his sister Ingrid. She pays tribute to Arne here:

“Arne was always the kid who did everything first and better, and then the rest of us all just tried to keep up. This went for skiing, unicyling, skateboarding, ping-pong, biking, tying his own fishing flies, it didn’t matter what he was doing, he always made it cool and interesting merely by his own proficiency and interest in it. He was never without a purpose or a project.

He was a bit shy when he was younger, but it was more that he was always observing, listening and watching. Arne only spoke when he truly had something to say. He wasn’t afraid of silence, or listening. He just wanted every one of his actions to have meaning.

He loved puzzles, the kind where you have to get the ring off of the other pieces—the more complicated the better. He could do a Rubik’s cube super fast. In high school, he taught himself how to pick a deadbolt lock and demonstrated this new skill on my parents’ front door. Arne was an Eagle Scout, and somehow managed to make it seem cool. He would win canoe races and do service projects like those were the raddest activities out there, and so they were. We went through a stage where we had several Buicks in our family, and by the end of those years he could pretty much take apart and fix anything on a Buick. Not only was he mechanical, he could also cook. He made one of the best dinners I’ve ever had—Yukon salmon that he caught himself in Alaska and then grilled on a cedar plank.

It would seem like you could get frustrated with someone who was so damn good at everything, but it was the exact opposite with Arne. His enthusiasm just made you want to be a part of whatever he was doing, and his gentle encouragement helped you believe that you could. He is and always will be my hero.” – Ingrid Backstrom