Q&A: Ski mountaineer Christina Lustenberger on leading, not following

Q&A: Ski mountaineer Christina Lustenberger on leading, not following

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Christina “Lusti” Lustenberger has established a reputation for charging to the head of any line. She was 17 years old when she made Canada’s National Team, and during the six years she spent competing in World Cup and Olympic events, she became known for her unconservative, throttle-squeezing style of skiing. Then, at 24, the Invermere native quit racing, moved to Revelstoke, and dedicated herself to mountaineering.

Now, the arc’teryx-sponsored athlete is an ACMC Assistant Ski Guide, and is training for the full guide exam. Here, Lusti talks with GI about being a (rippin’) woman in a male-dominated sport.

What factors steered you into a sport that doesn’t currently include a lot of women?
It was what I loved to do. I would never think of not doing something because it was male dominated. I think just being a strong person, working hard, and doing what you love is the most important thing.

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Is there anything you’d change about the ways that women are portrayed in outdoor marketing?
I don’t think girls need to be loud and group together to find a place in the sport. Just be who you are, beautiful and strong.

What advice do you have for women who may not see a lot of other gals in the sport they’re drawn to?
Do what you love and do it often. Be strong, be smart, work hard.

I think if you can find a mentor, male or female, it can make progressing in your sport easier. As a guiding mentor, Lars Andrews has been very influential on my ski guiding career. Taking me on as a ski practicum, helping me with guide training, and eventually employing me as one of his ski guides at Whitecap Alpine, a backcountry ski touring lodge in BC. I look up to his style and knowledge, and I think that is what you should look for in a mentor. He is a strong skier and guides as well as recreates with such confidence. I think that allows him to take people to unique terrain. Taking different styles from mentors and friends allows me to learn the mountain craft and apply it to my own life and way of traveling in the mountains.

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I have always wanted to be up front breaking trail, help make the big decisions, skiing first. I think it is very important to not be a follower in the mountains. Knowing your limitations . . . work hard to gain knowledge and experience.

To read more Lusti-isms and browse photos from her exploits, visit christinalusti.com.