Pro skier Arne Backstrom dies |

Pro skier Arne Backstrom dies

Kevin MacMillan
Sierra Sun
Vail, CO Colorado
Courtesy Photo - Ian Coble; www.iancoble.comArne Backstrom, 29.

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. – Freeskiing professional and Squaw Valley USA regular Arne Backstrom, 29, has died after a big-mountain fall, according to Friday morning report in Freeskier Magazine.

Although details are unconfirmed, the accident reportedly occurred on Pisco Mountain in the Cordillera Blanca region of Peru, South America, according to the report on

Sentiments to the Backstrom family have been pouring out on Facebook and Twitter and other online websites all day. Here in Tahoe, his friends were shocked to hear the news.

“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.”

Backstrom, a Patagonia ambassador, won the McConkey Cup and became the 2009-10 Freeskiing World Tour champion, and recently he filmed his second straight segment with Warren Miller Entertainment and a part with Matchstick Productions.

Backstrom’s parents, Steve and Betsy, are volunteer ski patrollers at Washington’s Crystal Mountain, where Arne raced growing up. He eventually moved to Squaw Valley to join older sister Ingrid and Ralph, his brother, who is a professional snowboarder.

“It’s really unfortunate. I’m in shock right now,” said Squaw Valley skier Travis Ganong in a Friday morning e-mail interview. “I knew Arne very well. He was a great skier and friend and will be missed by the Tahoe and skiing community worldwide. It’s a very sad day. The Squaw community has seen an unlucky share of deaths in the last few years.”

On Feb. 24, 2010, Truckee resident C.R. Johnson, who made a name for himself as a teenager as one of the most progressive freeskiers in the industry, was killed after a fall at Squaw Valley USA, while skiing a practice run in Light Towers area near Headwall.

On March 26, 2009, skiing legend and Olympic Valley resident Shane McConkey, 39, died after a botched BASE jump in Italy. McConkey, who moved to Squaw from Colorado in 1994, had grown popular for his BASE jumping talents as well as his big-mountain film exploits, and had won several national and international skiing competitions, including the X Games and World Extreme Skiing Championships.

“Our hearts are with (Arne’s sister) Ingrid Backstrom and her family,” said Christine Horvath, director of marketing at Squaw Valley USA.

Look to for updates to this story as details become available.

Crystal Mountain statement

Crystal Mountain, Backstrom’s home mountain in Washington, issued the following statement on Friday:

“We learned today that Arne Backstrom passed away in a ski accident in the Cordillera Blanca region of Peru, South America..

It is an extremely sad day for the entire ski community. The immeasurable loss of Arne Backstrom brings great sadness to everyone who knew him.

On behalf of everyone at Crystal Mountain, we wish to express our deepest sympathy to the Backstrom family and friends far-and-wide. Arne, we miss you already!

Arne grew up skiing at Crystal with his brother (Ralph), and sister Ingrid. His parents, Steve and Betsy, still spend much of their time at Crystal during the winter months.”

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