Deb Armstrong Honored with PSIA-AASI Distinguished Service Award

PSIA-AASI National Academies attendees packed the Yellowstone Conference Center at Big Sky, Montana, last month, to honor some of the true pioneers and rising stars of U.S. ski and snowboard instruction.

Deb Armstrong, a former member of the PSIA Alpine Team, lifelong educator, and Olympic gold medal winner in the Giant Slalom at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, received the Distinguished Service Award for her ongoing contributions to snowsports instruction, both as an educator and via her immensely popular YouTube channel where she champions good teaching, gender equity, and inclusiveness in snowsports.

This award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to support the success of PSIA-AASI and its members and/or:

  • Made important contributions that have added to the success of PSIA-AASI and its members on a national scale.
  • Displayed long-term commitment and dedication by providing educational programming and support.
  • Demonstrated positive leadership skills.
  • Fostered connections with and between members, including serving as a mentor.

“I never wanted to be a Christmas tree ornament that people brought out to commemorate my past accomplishments,” Armstrong said of her commitment to ongoing education. “I’ve always wanted to continue to contribute to the future of our sport, especially when it comes to welcoming more people to the slopes, and making sure they all have the support and resources to really enjoy the experience.”

Humaira Falkenberg, founder and principal of JEDI Outdoors, who nominated Deb for the award, wrote:

“It is my honor and pleasure to augment the nomination of Deb Armstrong for the PSIA-AASI Distinguished Service Award. JEDI Outdoors is a powerful initiative that centers advanced alpine training for Black, Brown, Indigenous, Women of Color (BIWOC) who are PSIA-AASI Level I or II certified instructors to take their Level II or Level III exams. While there has been a recent spotlight within PSIA-AASI based on the seminal work of Ann Schorling on ‘Increasing Gender Equity in Snowsports Instruction’ and the launch of the Women of Winter program in certifying Level I BIWOC PSIA-AASI instructors, there is a gap specifically for BIWOC women advancing in their snowsports education.

When I first approached Deb about this initiative, Deb quickly and readily saw the issue and was eager to help bridge the divide; she did so with full enthusiasm and support.

Deb is thoughtful and methodical in her approach to coaching BIWOC JEDI Scholars. She has made a long-term commitment by providing education programming and support to these women who are often overlooked in their professional development in snowsports education. Deb has been an avid advocate for these women who are members of PSIA-AASI.”

Fellow nominator Burt Skall, Taos Valley Snowsports School Director, wrote:

“Deb is the ultimate professional, coach, and ambassador for our industry and profession. Beyond her world accomplishments and recognition she has been extremely impactful with the instructors at Taos.

Deb has the extraordinary ability to train with our top staff in the morning and the new instructors in the afternoon with the same passion to improve skiing and knowledge. Her dedication to our sport and its continued growth is inspirational.”