ESP Biography

JAMES BACKMAN, MIT ex-Varsity Ski Team ex-Captain

Major: Chemical Engineering

College/Employer: MIT

Year of Graduation: Not available.

Picture of James Backman

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I was born in NJ, but lived at heart in the Adirondacks and anyplace where there was ice or snow. Spent all of my time from age 6-18 racing in the Eastern Regional United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) alpine competitions. I received my international racing license as a Sophomore in high school and raced internationally in FIS races for two years. My USSA career ended upon entering college, but I raced on the intercollegiate circuit and headed up the MIT Varsity Alpine Ski Team as co-captain.

I was an undergrad at MIT in Course X (Chemical Engineering). After four years of studying here, I decided to come back for a 5th year as a graduate student in the MIT School of Chem Eng Practice. "If you are that much of a ski bum, then what are dong here?" you might ask. This extra year gives me the chance to be a college student one last time, get another degree and do a few more epic trips before I get on with my career.

Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

X2769: The Sacred Art of Ski & Snowboard Tuning in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Do you want to ski or ride better? If you truly do, you have to understand your equipment. You have to become one functioning unit on the mountain: you have to feel every small bump, the consistency of the snow under your feet, and move together to hammer down in perfect harmony. (It's kinda a Zen thing.) The only way to truly achieve that ideal is to know everything about your skis or your snowboard. What do the bases feel like, how are the edges sharpened and at what angles? What is the flex of your ski, the shape, what can it do when you really put the hammer down? The only way to know this is to care for your skis yourself. And you will find that when they are at their peak conditioning, you will ride better, faster and longer then ever before. Sure, you could get them to their top shape by sending them to the tuning center at the mountain, but then you end up paying $20-$40 for someone to just throw your skis into a machine. (And usually those machines do only a passable job, leaving a lot to be desired.) And you do that what? Once? Twice a year? A proper hand-tuning costs even more and is tougher to find. Its time to treat your gear right, and to make it more of a personal affair. Learn how to tune, and care for your skis, learn the Sacred Art of Ski Tuning.

H2035: The Sacred Art of Ski/Snowboard Tuning in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
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