Olympic gold medalist joins ski area staff

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Deb Armstrong

— In 1984, Alpine ski racer Deb Armstrong won the gold medal in giant slalom at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. This winter, she will bring her experience as a racer and talents as an instructor to the staff of the Steamboat Ski Area. Armstrong recently was named the resort's Alpine technical director.

"We are delighted to have someone as talented and accomplished as Deb join the Steamboat team," said Jim Schneider, vice president of skier services for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. "As both a seasoned competitive and clinical veteran, I look to Deb to play a central role in evolving the technical elements of the Ski & Snowboard School as well as its instructors to even a higher level."

Armstrong, who was a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 1981 to 1988, becomes the third skier on the Steamboat staff who has an Olympic medal. Director of Skiing Billy Kidd won the silver medal at the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, and skiing ambassador Nelson Carmichael won the bronze medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville, France.

As the ski area's Alpine technical director, Armstrong will be responsible for all on-snow technical aspects of the Ski & Snowboard School, oversee NASTAR specialty clinics, and coach with the Billy Kidd Performance Center. She will also host the Steamboat Women's Clinics, which are scheduled for Dec. 11 to 13, Jan. 15 to 17, Feb. 5 to 7 and March 4 to 6.

Armstrong is no stranger to Steamboat Springs. As a young skier, she visited the Yampa Valley for racing events. She used to visit Steamboat and teammate Heidi (Bowes) Nunnikhoven when the two were competing on the U.S. Ski Team together. She said her ties to people in Steamboat, including Ski & Snowboard School Director Nelson Wingard, aided her decision to accept the job.

Armstrong retired from the U.S. Ski Team in 1988 but has remained involved with skiing at several different levels. She has been a part of the Professional Ski Instructors of America Alpine National Team since 2004, and also has held the position of division leader since 2002. She achieved certification in Children's Accreditation (2004), Trainer Accreditation (2001) and Level III Accreditation (2000). She has extensive coaching experience at the national level and was an assistant with the University of New Mexico's ski team.

"I think the most rewarding thing for me has been staying on top of my game. I was on top of my game in 1984 when I won the gold medal, and I'm on top of my game now," Armstrong said.

She admits there are many differences in competitive skiing and instruction, but both offer opportunities and challenges. Armstrong approached teaching with the same passion she approached racing and has enjoyed success with both. She is the only athlete to win the Olympic gold and to be a member of the PSIA Alpine National Team.

"Deb is a welcome addition to the Steamboat Ski School. Her Olympic credentials give her great credibility. I've worked with Deb at corporate outings and events over the years and know that she's positive, enthusiastic and knowledgeable," said Kidd. "The U.S. Team's results at the 2006 Olympics, with gold medals by Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso, show that the U.S.A. is a leader in the world of skiing. Deb can interpret what the champions are doing and apply it to our guest experience so that they can ski better, whether in the NASTAR finals, or to the future Olympians who dream about winning a gold medal of their own."

Armstrong said she left her position at Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico to look for a new challenge. She hopes to find it in Steamboat.

"I'm psyched to work with Billy," she said. "His image has put Steamboat on the map and there's no question about that. I'm very excited to come to Steamboat and complement what Billy has done."

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