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Backstrom, Gaidet claim freeskiing titles



Moss Patterson claims Sick Bird award at annual freeskiing championships

The warm, wet weather, low visibility and changing snow conditions took their toll on the field of more than 65 skiers who took part in last weekend’s Canadian Freeskiing Championships, knocking out some favourites early, and opening a window of opportunity for a new batch of up-and-coming skiers.

For a sport that is based on making the best out of difficult situations and taking calculated risks, it was a fitting challenge.

In the women’s contest, Ingrid Backstrom of Squaw Valley, California claimed her first Canadian title after finishing second the last two years. In her last run of the day in Diamond Bowl, she flew off a tough cliff section at full speed, and disappeared from the spectators’ view into a gully. After a tense moment Backstrom reappeared, and skied a strong line down the bowl despite the choppy conditions.

The run was scored at 36.8 points, more than five points better than any other women received on day two. She moved up from sixth place to first in the rankings to take the title.

"I was going out today for a bit of redemption because I crashed on the last couple of days," said Backstrom. "Coming up from behind was a little bit of a challenge for me, but I did good today."

The conditions were difficult, but Backstrom stuck to the line she planned on from the begging.

"It wasn’t too bad," she said. "It got messy on the bottom third, but I was prepared for that. Where I went there weren’t as many tracks so the snow was a little bit nicer until I got out into the open bowl, and that’s where I knew I just had to hang on and keep making nice turns to the bottom. That was the plan from the beginning and that’s what I wanted to do."

Although she is consistently among the top skiers at World Tour events, Backstrom has missed the third and final event at Les Arcs, France the past two years, and with it the opportunity to win to the overall world championship title. She plans to make the trip this year.

"I’d love to compete at Les Arcs, and will hopefully try to do well there as well," Backstrom said.

"(The tour) is always fun. The best part is coming out and seeing all these people and watching all these girls ski – and seeing how well they’re doing, because it makes me step up."

Backstrom was amazed by all of the new talent this season, and is enjoying how competitive the tour is becoming.