Debbie Armstrong

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Debbie Armstrong
Personal information
Born (1963-12-06) December 6, 1963 (age 60)
Salem, Oregon, U.S.
OccupationAlpine skier
Height5 ft 5 in (165 cm)
Skiing career
DisciplinesDownhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom, combined
World Cup debutDecember 8, 1982
(age 19)
RetiredMarch 1988 (age 24)
Teams2 – (1984, 1988)
Medals1 (1 gold)
World Championships
Teams3 – (1982, 1985, 1987)
World Cup
Seasons6 – (19821988)
Podiums1 – (1 SG)
Overall titles0 – (20th in 1985)
Discipline titles0 – (12th in GS in 1984;
       12th in DH in 1987)
Medal record
Women's alpine skiing
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1984 Sarajevo Giant slalom

Debra Rae "Debbie" Armstrong (born December 6, 1963) is a former World Cup alpine ski racer from Seattle, Washington. She was the first Olympic gold medalist from the U.S. in women's alpine skiing in twelve years, winning the giant slalom at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Racing career[edit]

Born in Salem, Oregon, Armstrong grew up in Seattle and was a multi-sport athlete at Garfield High School; in addition to ski racing, she also played basketball, soccer, volleyball, and tennis. Armstrong has been inducted in the Seattle Public Schools Hall of Fame,[7] State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame,[8] and the National Ski Hall of Fame.[9]

Armstrong developed her racing skills in the 1970s at the Alpental ski area at Snoqualmie Pass, an hour east of Seattle on I-90. The run "Debbie's Gold" and the "Armstrong's Express" high-speed quad chairlift are named for her.[10]

She was the junior national champion in giant slalom in 1980 at Squaw Valley.[11] After being named to the U.S. Ski Team in 1981 she placed 14th[12] in her first World Cup Giant slalom in Val d'isere, France starting from bib number 68.

Armstrong made the 1982 World Championship team[13] in Austria, but broke a leg in a downhill training run and did not compete. She was runner-up in the giant slalom at the 1983 U.S. Nationals, and in January 1984, was third in a World Cup super-G[14] and fifth in a giant slalom,[15] shortly before the Olympics.

At the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Armstrong became the first American woman to win a gold medal in skiing since Barbara Cochran won the slalom a dozen years earlier at Sapporo.

At the 1985 World Championships in Bormio, Italy, Armstrong placed 4th in the giant slalom.[16] In 1987 at the World Championships, Armstrong placed sixth in the Super-G.[17] and became the U.S. National Giant slalom Champion.[18]

Defending her gold medal, she finished thirteenth in the giant slalom at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.[19]

Dr. Hubert Armstrong, Armstrong's father, is a clinical psychologist at the University of Washington; he participated in the 1988 Winter Olympics, representing the US luge team as the sports psychologist. His 1986 Parenting the Elite Athlete (Armstrong, Hubert E., Jr., Ph.D. (February/March 1986) has gained traction as a classic sport parenting article in alpine ski racing.

She completed her World Cup career with 18 top ten finishes: 7 in downhill, three in Super-G, five in giant slalom, and three in combined.[20]

World Cup results[edit]

Season standings[edit]

Season Age Overall Slalom Giant
Super G Downhill Combined
1983 19 33 26 not
(w/ GS)
19 20
1984 20 24 12 37 15
1985 21 20 16 23 19
1986 22 35 20 21 17
1987 23 22 18 20 12
1988 24 94 32

Top ten finishes[edit]

  • 0 wins, 1 podium (SG), 18 top tens (7 DH, 3 SG, 5 GS, 3K)
Season Date Location Race Place
1983 15 Dec 1982 Italy San Sicario, Italy Downhill 7th
29 Jan 1983  Switzerland  Les Diablerets, Switzerland Downhill 5th
1984 8 Jan 1984 France Puy St. Vincent, France Super-G 3rd
29 Jan 1984 France St. Gervais, France Combined 6th
29 Jan 1984 Giant slalom 5th
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1984 Winter Olympics
21 Mar 1984 West Germany Zwiesel, West Germany Giant slalom 9th
1985 15 Dec 1984 Italy Madonna di Campiglio, Italy Giant slalom 5th
17 Dec 1984 Italy Santa Caterina, Italy Giant slalom 4th
9 Jan 1985 Combined 8th
Italy 1985 World Championships
9 Mar 1985 Canada Banff, AB, Canada Downhill 8th
10 Mar 1985 Super G 7th
17 Mar 1985 United States Waterville Valley, NH, USA Giant slalom 10th
1986 7 Dec 1985 Italy Sestriere, Italy Super G 4th
12 Dec 1985 France Val d'Isère, France Downhill 5th
13 Dec 1985 Downhill 7th
6 Jan 1986 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Maribor, Yugoslavia Combined 6th
1987 12 Dec 1986 France Val d'Isère, France Downhill 6th
13 Dec 1986 Downhill 4th
Switzerland 1987 World Championships

World championship results[edit]

  Year    Age   Slalom   Giant 
Super-G Downhill Combined
1985 21 4 23 DNF SL1
1987 23 17 6 13

Olympic results [edit]

  Year    Age   Slalom   Giant 
Super-G Downhill Combined
1984 20 1 21
1988 24 13 18


After her retirement from competitive skiing following the 1988 World Cup season, Armstrong has led various humanitarian causes, including the Debbie Armstrong Say No to Alcohol and Drugs campaign; the SKIFORALL Foundation, which opens skiing events to the disabled; and Global ReLeaf Sarajevo, which seeks to reforest Sarajevo after the Bosnian war. Armstrong moved to Albuquerque, NM and attended University of New Mexico and earned an undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Science) in History.

Armstrong served as the Ski Ambassador at Taos Ski Valley for eight seasons. Simultaneously, she served a four-year term on the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Alpine Demo Team[21] which marked the first time a former US Ski Team athlete qualified for the Demo Team.

The PSIA Demo Team (now known as the PSIA-AASI Alpine Team) is made up of the top ski instructors in the nation. These professionals are "some of the best skiers and riders in the game and they are inspirational educators and lifelong learners. Every four years, thirty men and women are chosen to represent the association following a rigorous selection process. Team members are responsible for promoting, supporting, and assisting with the development of PSIA-AASI education materials, programs, and activities at all levels. They set the standard for U.S. snowsports instruction and embody the ski and snowboard experience."[22]

In 2007, Armstrong moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado where she served one year as Technical Director for the Steamboat Ski Resort (Armstrong 2008, p. 36). In 2008, she became the Alpine Director at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club,[23] a world-renowned ski club located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a position she held for six years. Beginning with the 2014 season, Armstrong transitioned to the U10 Head Coach position and Coach Trainer at the Sports Club.

Currently, Armstrong is specializing in the training and development of young skiers (U8-U12)[24] and serves on numerous US Ski and Snowboard Task Forces for Education, Athlete Development and Gender Topics. Armstrong produces specialized training videos for coaches and athletes.


  • Armstrong Jr., Ph.D., Hubert E.(February/March, 1986). "Parenting the Elite Athlete", Puget Soundings, p6.
  • Armstrong, Deb (September, 1987). "The importance of being an all-around athlete [Athlete Point of View]", American Ski Coach, v11, n1, p38.
  • Armstrong, Deb (Fall, 2001). "IMSIA mountain rendezvous 2001: a success of olympic proportions", the professional skier, p44.
  • Armstrong, Deb (Winter, 2003). "Turning to tipping and back again: a process of rediscovery", the professional skier, p8.
  • Armstrong, Deb (Spring, 2004). "To vary your turn radius, improve your range of lateral motion", the professional skier, p28.
  • Armstrong, Deb (Winter, 2005). "Avoid the rainbow rut with new turn tactis", the professional skier, p34.
  • Armstrong, Deb (Spring, 2005). "Training for life", the professional skier, p16.
  • Armstrong, Deb (Fall, 2005). "My winter with Otto Lang", the professional skier, p28.
  • Armstrong, Deb (Winter, 2006). "US Ski Team shares its alpine tactics", the professional skier, p30.
  • Armstrong, Deb (Fall, 2006). "Where are you going? A look at directional movement", the professional skier, p26.
  • Armstrong, Deb (Spring, 2008). "It's hip to think hips, even if you're a fan of the ankles", the professional skier, p32.


  1. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Debbie Armstrong". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2016-12-04.
  2. ^ "Olympic Winter Games Sarajevo (JUG)".
  3. ^ Yake, D. Byron (February 14, 1984). "Washington skier (not Mahre) wins gold". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. p. C1.
  4. ^ "America cheers its first champion". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire service reports. February 14, 1984. p. 1D.
  5. ^ "USA strikes gold in Winter Games". Nashua Telegraph. (New Hampshire). Associated Press. February 14, 1984. p. 19.
  6. ^ "Armstrong: Medal 'sinking in'". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. February 24, 1984. p. 23.
  7. ^ "Debbie Armstrong - SPS Athletic Hall of Fame".
  8. ^ "Skiing". 5 March 2017. Archived from the original on 2 October 2018. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Hall of Fame Induction Set for Steamboat".
  10. ^ Summit at Snoqualmie Archived 2018-08-17 at the Wayback Machine - trail maps - accessed 2010-03-11
  11. ^ "Robert L. (Barney) McLean".
  12. ^ "ARMSTRONG Debbie - Athlete Information".
  13. ^ "Robert L. (Barney) McLean".
  14. ^ "ARMSTRONG Debbie - Athlete Information".
  15. ^ "ARMSTRONG Debbie - Athlete Information".
  16. ^ "ARMSTRONG Debbie - Athlete Information".
  17. ^ "ARMSTRONG Debbie - Athlete Information".
  18. ^ "Robert L. (Barney) McLean".
  19. ^ "ARMSTRONG Debbie - Athlete Information".
  20. ^ - results - Debbie Armstrong - accessed 2012-01-06
  21. ^ "Robert L. (Barney) McLean".
  22. ^ "Teams".
  23. ^ "Armstrong moving to SSWSC". 6 June 2008.
  24. ^ "U10 & U10 Plus | Alpine Winter Programs | Steamboat Springs CO".

External links[edit]