Professional Freeskier Arne Backstrom dies in Peru

Squaw Valley-based skier dead at 29 after a big-mountain fall.
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Squaw Valley-based skier dead at 29 after a big-mountain fall.
Arne Backstrom

The skiing world suffered a terrible loss Friday morning with the death of Arne Backstrom. The Squaw Valley, California, professional freeskier died after a big-mountain fall in Peru. He was 29.

Details are unconfirmed, but Arne was allegedly skiing on Pisco Mountain, in the Cordillera Blanca region of Peru. ESPN.com reports that he was there on a ski-mountaineering trip with Sweetgrass Productions, attempting a descent of Artesanraju, a 5,999-meter (19,681-foot) peak in the area.

Arne was born in Seattle and grew up on the slopes Crystal Mountain, Washington. He ski raced and majored in chemistry at Whitman College in Walla Walla, spent time skiing in Europe afterwards, and ended up in Squaw Valley with his siblings—pro freeskier Ingrid and pro snowboarder Ralph.

Arne’s freeskiing career gained momentum last season after he won the McConkey Cup, the Canadian Freeskiing Championships, and the Backcountry.com Sickbird Award. In April he went to Chamonix and descended the rarely skied Mallory Couloir as well as the Himalayan Face of Mont Blanc. He has starred in ski-film segments from Matchstick Productions and Warren Miller Entertainment.

Warren Miller Entertainment cinematographer Tom Day said that while Arne was undoubtedly a great skier, it was Arnie’s “spirit and attitude” that were most remarkable. “Arne was an incredibly great person,” Day said. “Very humble.” Day, a friend of the Backstrom siblings, filmed Arne recently at Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe, California, during a shoot for the upcoming 61st Warren Miller feature.

Our deepest sympathies go out to Arne’s family and friends.

Update: Arne Backstrom Accident Report Released - Click Here

Here's a tribute to Arne put together by our friends at Warren Miller Entertainment.

Tribute to Arne Backstrom from Warren Miller on Vimeo.