The Truth: Ingrid Backstrom


IN 2004, INGRID BACKSTROM won the U.S. Freeskiing Nationals, ripped four turns down a 1,500-foot face in Bella Coola, British Columbia, for Matchstick Productions’ Yearbook – and firmly established herself not just as a top woman skier, but a top skier. Period.

WHEN INSTINCT AND MUSCLE memory take over, you can surprise yourself. You’re just reacting and doing.

I WASN’T A VERY GOOD RACER, but spending that many hours on snow was the foundation of my skiing.

I DO LIKE TO GO FAST. If you have a wide-open slope, you can’t help it.

WHEN I FIRST STARTED COMPETING, I thought “What am I doing? I’m not using my brain.”

IT’S A MENTAL GAME FOR WOMEN more than it is for men. Women take a tactical approach to action sports. It’s more like: “I took a 10-foot air in similar conditions, and this one is 15 feet.” Whereas a guy’s like: “Yeah, looks great,” and just hucks it.

LAST SEASON, I WAS AT THE TOP of a run, letting the person in front of me get a little ways down so that I’d have room to ski, and a guy pulled up and said that I was waiting because I was scared, and he just drops in. So I waited until he got a little ways down and skied past him.

SKI COMPANIES don’t necessarily want women who can ski better than guys. A lot of times, they just want girls who can ski great and look great to sell their product.

IT IS A MALE-RUN INDUSTRY but, in general, the posers don’t last very long.

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, I like to get dressed up, go shopping, go out with girlfriends and have a fancy drink.

AT SQUAW, ON A POWDER DAY, when you’re on a run that you’ve skied so many times that you know every little tree and turn, and it’s just full of pow and you ski it as fast as you can and see your friends in your peripheral vision, you get to the bottom laughing and you don’t even know why.