John F. Russell: Deb Armstrong knows what it takes to be a gold medal mom

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— As a single parent of two children, I understand the pressures of raising a family in Steamboat Springs.

John Russell

John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by John here.

In the past month, I’ve traveled to Denver for soccer tournaments, sat through three straight dance performances totaling a little more than 300 minutes of my weekend and have pulled more than a few of the quickly vanishing strains of hair from my constantly thinning hairline while trying to figure out how to make all the events in my children’s lives fit into a single week or a single day.

That doesn’t include piano lessons, last week’s carnival and making sure that I have enough food in my frig to fill those lunch boxes during the school year.

My life is a constantly spinning universe, but if one thing slips out of place, the whole thing collapses faster than LeBron James in an overheated basketball arena.

So last week, when gold medalist Deb Armstrong announced that she was stepping down as Alpine director of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, it didn’t surprise me. She is the third director to step down in the past two years.

But as a mother who is responsible for a 7-year-old girl, I understand Armstrong’s decision to make her daughter, Adelyn, the top priority in her life.

I would be hard-pressed to find a parent in our mountain town that doesn’t understand that our children should always come first. I respect what Armstrong is doing, and I applaud her efforts to being the best mom she can as her main goal.

Being a director at the Winter Sports Club is a lot like being a parent — times 200. She was in charge of a staff of more than 20 coaches and provided inspiration, direction and guidance for nearly 200 athletes. It’s not an easy job, and in an Olympic-minded town like Steamboat Springs, the pressure to produce the next Olympian can be harder than attempting to climb a 14,000-foot peak in the middle of winter.

Armstrong plans to leave the director’s position in her rear-view mirror, however, when I bumped into her Friday, she didn’t sound like a coach who was going to walk away.

The past few years, Armstrong, who won the gold medal in the giant slalom at the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo, has been a driving force at the Winter Sports Club.

She supported the club’s athletes on the hill, she used her experiences to inspire young athletes and she promoted skiing whenever possible.

Her love for the sport is second to none, and her contributions to the Winter Sports Club cannot be overlooked.

Only time will tell what Armstrong’s role with the club will be as it continues to move forward. But the one thing we can count on is that Armstrong will continue to live life like a champion.

She will be missed on the hill, but my guess is she will find plenty to feel good about no matter what her daughter is doing.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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