The Pacific Northwest is world renowned for its beautiful ski areas. How many people can say they ski in the shadow of geologically active volcanoes such as the Mount Baker Ski Area and Crystal Mountain Resort near Mount Rainier? Seattle native, Ingrid Backstrom, grew up on these mountains and quickly established herself in the skiing world. In January of this year, she joined the Seattle-based evoCollective to represent evo’s brand and core values (you can shop her collection here). Embodying all that it means to have girl power, the Seattle Times named her “the most successful female big-mountain skier ever,” in 2014. Her sponsors include The North Face, Volkl, Tecnica and Giro. As a female who snowboards myself, I was incredibly excited to have the unique opportunity to interview Ingrid and learn more about her!
Name: Ingrid Backstrom
Twitter Handle: @ingridbackstrom
Instagram Handle: @ingridbackstrom
Facebook Page: facebook.com/ingrid.backstrom
What are three words that best describe you? Silly, Energetic, Outside
Could you describe your business? I’m a professional skier; I try to represent my sponsors as best I can in ski movies, magazines, and on the internet. I also try to write stories, coach freeskiing for adults and youth, and help put on clinics and trips to help promote safe and fun skiing and avalanche awareness.
What is your role, where are you based and what do you inspires you most about your work? I live in Leavenworth, Washington, and I ski and coach at Crystal Mountain as well as at Stevens Pass and in the backcountry. I am most inspired by my friends and family, by people who pursue their passions and live life in a way that promotes the good of everyone and of our planet.
Was there anything in your past that pointed you in the direction you’ve taken? Probably my parents were a great example, just getting outside as much as possible and challenging themselves always. They taught me by example that the best things in life are the ones that are worth working hard for.
What experience in your career are you most proud of? Still making a career out of skiing ten years later!
What advice would you share with those still in school? Study hard, and always keep hobbies. Try to follow your true nature rather than forcing yourself to do something that feels wrong or not inspiring. That doesn’t mean it will be easy…
Why is giving back is important to you? I am really fortunate to have incredible, supportive parents and I have had lots of opportunities in life. I believe that everyone deserves to be able to be healthy, safe, and enjoy passions and joy in life.
How has giving back helped you? I have learned the most from trying to teach others–it really is a challenge and it is so rewarding at the same time. It pushes me to go deep and try to figure out how best to explain things or teach things, and that helps me learn about myself and become a better person.
How do you incorporate giving back into your life? I try to say yes whenever I can to things that benefit charities, whether it’s skiing with people for an auction, or helping put on events where our proceeds benefit charity, like our women’s SAFE AS Avalanche Awareness clinics that I help put on with some friends. There are so many ways to offer useful services and products that can also benefit charity–it’s a win-win situation. I try to work with Protect Our Winters whenever I can, helping spread the word about what they are doing to affect global climate change on a larger scale with policy and awareness, whether that’s talking to kids in schools or going to Washington, D.C., to talk and listen to policy makers.
Which charities are near and dear to you and why? I’m a huge fan of Protect Our Winters, promoting the environment. I also support High Fives, a non-profit based in Tahoe that helps promote safety in action sports, and the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative in Colorado that works to connect and support kids in their passions through education and opportunities. I’m a huge proponent of the Northwest Avalanche Center and love everything they do. But my most favorite charity is the Arne Backstrom Memorial Foundation which promotes outdoor and environmental education and recreation for all youth.
When it comes to your own philanthropic efforts, what do you look back and feel made the largest impact on those that you set out to help?
That’s hard to gauge–there really aren’t any numbers to put to that. I look at it more as if I feel I connected with an individual–whether it’s talking about the environment or avalanche safety–and I understood their viewpoint better and they understood mine; I think that is where change can happen.
What is the most creative fundraising idea you’ve come across?
I like when marketing and charity are aligned–when a company just does something to do good, and the results get shared and generate their own publicity and goodwill–it’s the best marketing. The North Face does a great job with this through their charity grants program.
What are some must-attend charity events for you?
My schedule is all over the place, so I don’t have any regulars on the schedule. But I try to be in Tahoe every September for the Blastathon–a mountain bike ride, party, and raffle that is so fun, and it all benefits the Arne Backstrom Memorial Foundation.
What brands do you wear most often?
I’m generally wearing some type of athletic clothing, so lots of The North Face, summer and winter.
What is your favorite beauty product?
Sunscreen and Blinc mascara.
How would you describe your home décor?
Eclectic, for sure–I like stuff that means something and has a story to it. Lots of thrift store finds, antiques, hand-me downs, and art that friends have made or photos friends have taken. Sort of mountain cabin meets farmhouse.
What is your secret for hosting a great party?
I love to cook, so I try to make great food and make everyone feel comfortable. I always make way too much, so there’s no fear of running out or people going hungry.
I like beer usually, but my favorite cocktail would be a watermelon margarita–just fresh watermelon blended with ice, lime, tequila, and triple sec or Grand Marnier.
Idlewild Pizza in Leavenworth, WA, and Sure to Rise Bakery and El Chavo, both in Cashmere, WA.
If you could host a dinner party for 8, who would you invite living or dead?
My family and a few best friends.
Favorite vacation spot:
Our honeymoon to Samoa and Tavarua was pretty incredible…
Do you have any tips for parents?
Haha, I’m not a parent, so I couldn’t presume to offer any tips.
Favorite TV show:
Any ski movie
If I Needed You, by Townes Van Zandt
The Catcher in the Rye
Words with Friends, Instagram
iPhone or Android:
The North Face Mountain Athletics App, done at my house.
Where do you get your news?