PowderQuest's Women's Ski Camp With Ingrid Backstrom, Day 3

Ingrid Backstrom is on a mission to spread the gospel of shredding to women skiers around the world. After a week following her around La Parva, Chile, we are her loyal disciples.
Author:
Publish date:
Ingrid Backstrom and her Freeskiing Disciples

After a quick breakfast, it’s up the series of lifts to TK, where Ingrid says something that scares the living crap out of me. “Unbuckle your boots,” she commands us. “Both of them. Power straps, too.” I don’t know how many times I’ve been told that skiing with your boots unbuckled is one of the best ways to improve your balance, proprioception and fine motor skills, but I know how many times I’ve actually done it. Zero. Face plants and tweaked knees are easy enough for me to come by with my boots cranked down until my toes lose feeling. Why on earth would I want to double my odds? But this week is about pushing my limits and, in the grand scheme of things, unbuckling my boots is hardly kamikaze. We’re on a relatively gentle groomed slope and the sun is shining; our biggest hazards here are the young American club racers whizzing by us in their Spandex speed suits. They come to La Parva to train for two weeks every summer. As I watch them mach by, I’m sure they’ve skied with their boots unbuckled a lot, and it shows. But I’ve been skiing twice as long as some of these kids have been alive, so if they can do it, I can do it.

Ingrid sends us off, one by one, to make big turns down the groomed slope. “Feel the skis dive into the fall line and then trust that they’ll carve back up the hill,” she tells us. Have patience; they’ll come around. That’s what they’re built for. They do, and they are. The first two turns feel extremely awkward, but by the third and fourth, I’ve found my center and can stand there as the skis carve up the hill. By the fifth, sixth and seventh turns, I’m actually sort of comfortable being uncomfortable. That didn’t take long. We take two or three runs with our boots unbuckled, and Ingrid evaluates each of us. “Deb, your right-footed turn looks really good,” she tells me. “But your left-footed turn is…” That just means you can drive into the front of your boots even more, she tells me. And so on the next few runs, that’s what I concentrate on, and everything feels better than it did yesterday. We buckle up again and head back into the ungroomed snow under the TK. Pushing my shins even harder into the front of my boots and driving my hands forward into my power position makes this weeks-old, chunky snow ski more like corn. The skis slice right through it. But something still feels slightly off. I focus intensely on every turn, my brain in overdrive analyzing each bump and slip under my skis. My eyes scan the snow a couple feet in front of my ski tips for rocks or signs of changing snow. I can’t put my finger on what is making me feel so tense.

On the next run, I decide to stand back and watch the other women. Am I the only one who’s so apprehensive? Ingrid drops first and, sure enough, she looks as relaxed as if she were strolling down the sidewalk. Young Lila follows Ingrid, and although her turns aren’t as consistent from one side to the other, she too, looks completely relaxed.

I’m like an eager, brown-nosing student grasping desperately for her instructor’s approval. I want Ingrid to notice how hard I’m working to do exactly what she tells me. Whenever I watch Ingrid turn, it looks so effortless and relaxed. Lila, who’s the most eager of the bunch, will zip off right after Ingrid, equally carefree.

Related

Ski Divas with Jessica Baker

Top Women's Ski Camps

Women’s skiing is on the rise. With stars like Ingrid Backstrom, Grete Eliassen, and Rachael Burks, inspiration is plentiful. This winter, from Switzerland to British Columbia, women’s specific ski camps are expanding and the opportunity for female skiers to ski faster, jump bigger, and stomp harder are available everywhere. The following are some of our favorites. –Molly Baker

Redommain Peak

Skiing China with Ingrid Backstrom

Pro freeskier Ingrid Backstrom recently climbed and skied China’s Redommain with photographer Jimmy Chin and North Face teammates Kasha Rigby and Giulia Monego. We spoke to her about base camp, skiing on belay, and urine bottles.

NASTC Ski Camp in Portillo

SKI Magazine contributing writer and author of Total Skiing Chris Fellows - a well-known ski instructor and director of the North American Ski Training Center - and his world class coaching staff will be hosting a week-long ski training camp at Portillo, August 12-20.

Ingrid Backstrom lifestyle

Five-Question Interview: Ingrid Backstrom

To get ready for the premiere of Matchstick Production's “The Way I See It" this Saturday in Boulder, Colorado, we caught up with Ingrid Backstrom to chat about the new flick, Twitter, and getting redemption on a snowmobile.