Christina Lustenberger is one of the top freeskiers and ski mountaineers in the world, so when she came to the Rockies this week we were fired up to ski with her. After learning more about her journey, we put together a brief checklist for those wishing to follow in her footsteps. If you check off any two of these items in your ski life, you’re doing well!
1. Start Young.
Raised in Invermere, Christina started skiing Panorama at age two. Her father (the originator of the Lusti nickname which she now carries) ran a ski shop right on the hill.
2. Race on the World Cup
Growing up at Panorama, racing was probably a given. But Lusti didn’t just participate, she got good! So good she ended up on the national team and represented Canada in the Turrin Olympics. On the World Cup she even cracked a 10th place finish in the giant slalom in 2006 inOfterschwang, Germany.
3. Retire Early
After “retiring” from the World Cup race scene in 2008, Lusti immersed herself in backcountry skiing and climbing. Her fitness, motivation, and athletic ability helped her progress quicker than the rest of us mortals could possibly hope for. She moved to Revelstoke and was soon skiing with the backcountry hardcores in that town, including the likes of Greg Hill and Chris Rubens.
4. Get Sponsors
With the relative ski fame garnered from racing, not to mention her ability on skis, Lusti was able to gain attention from the greater ski world. Sponsors and media exposure followed, but she earned every bit of it. Her bottomless motivation coupled with a rock-solid approach to the mountains means she’s out in the mountains more days than most and making the kind of safe decisions that allow for a long career.
5. Become a Guide
For many of us, earning Ski Guide certification with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides would be the defining line on our resumes. For Lusti it’s buried way down the page. It’s hard to imagine when she even had the time to work her way through the required avalanche and guiding courses. Her comfort and experience in the mountains is obvious though and it sets her apart from so many other talented freeskiers.
Lusti below the Cobra Couloir.
6. Crush a Few Ski Movies
Lusti's break-out performance on the big screen was Children of the Columbias with Sherpas Cinema. The final line in that film especially put her on the map (and on the cover of magazines). This year she followed up with an appearance in Teton Gravity Research’s Make Believe where she stakes her claim as one of the best freeskiers on the planet.
Let’s just stop there! There are some first descents on Lusti’s resume as well, but if you can check off these six easy steps, we'll certify you a bonafide backcountry badass. Lusti, however, will likely have added to the list by then.
All of this is just a long way of saying we were stoked to get the opportunity to ski with Christina when she came to town this week. It was great to watch her in action on the Cobra Couloir on the north face of Mt. Temple. Conditions weren’t quite as good as in the couloir in the video below (which she skied with Ian McIntosh last season), but it is only November and it was still pretty darn fun!