Deb Armstrong knows skiing. She knows mountains, particularly Taos Ski Valley. And she knows gold medals, having won one in downhill alpine skiing in 1984 in Sarajevo in what was then Yugoslavia.
And Armstrong also knows how to teach skiing.
She will be doing so at the Taos Ski Valley for four weekends in December, January and February.
“We are going to have a great time,” said Armstrong, who lived in Taos for eight years. “We’re going to have a lot of laughs and a lot of improvement. It’s going to be great.”
Participation will be limited to seven skiers per session, with one session geared toward beginners and intermediates; one for intermediate and advanced skiers, with an emphasis on moguls; and two aimed at advanced skiers comfortable with all terrain.
“The way this came about, the ski school director, we’ve been working together for the past few years,” Armstrong said. “I’ve been coming down from Steamboat Springs, where I live, and conducting clinics and training with the ski school staff. It is just such a good fit. They’re happy when I come down and I’m always thrilled when I come down. It’s really good chemistry when I come down.”
Wanting to expand on that, Armstrong met with Burt Skall, Taos Ski Valley snow sports service director, to see what could be done.
“Early this summer, Burt and I talked about how we could work together a little bit more since it’s a really good fit,” she said. “Burt had some ideas for products for the ski school he wanted to build out and we thought this would work.”
And, for Armstrong, it was important that the opportunity be offered to skiers of all abilities.
“We wanted to be able to meet every level of skier,” she said.
That’s why the beginner’s package is called “Discover Exhilaration.”
“Discover movement and exhilaration, while being safe and aware,” Armstrong said. “That is what skiing is all about. Finding the flow, that’s the thrill.”
The intermediate to advanced skiers will be working on “ski situations and improvement on moguls. We want to transform you into masters of the moguls,” she said.
And advanced skiers will be seeing the Taos Ski Valley as they’ve never seen it before.
“Let’s embrace everything the mountain has to offer,” she said. “All the world-class terrain we have at Taos. Let’s embrace the thrill of all snow conditions, all situations the mountain has to offer.”
The sessions start on Thursday evenings with an informal meet and greet.
“At that time, I can get a real good sense of each individual in the group,” she said. “This is going to be very personalized. We’ll be spending three days on the hill together, and I’ll be able to meet the guests and really try to dive deep into the guests’ motivations, their goals for the three days, where they’re going in their skiing. And I’ll just meet everybody right there where they’re at. That Thursday will be a lot of fun, becoming acquainted with everybody.”
Then, it’s two full days and another half-day on the mountain.
Armstrong believes she is uniquely qualified to hold such sessions.
“Skiing is my life’s work,” she said. “I had my success on the U.S. ski team and then, after that, I got my degree at UNM and, after I finished my degree down there, I had to answer the question, what am I going to do with the rest of my life? And I came right back to the mountains and right back to the people.”
Armstrong holds expert-level certifications in ski instruction and ski coaching.
“Teaching skiing, it’s not easy,” she said. “I’ve really made it my life’s work and I absolutely love it. That’s why I think this is just a little bit different. The passion that I brought to my ski racing is the same love and passion that I’m bringing to coaching in a new way. As I’m creating a relationship with these guests, and taking their skiing to new levels, I enjoy that. When you enjoy what you’re doing, and you’re in your element and good at it, people are happy and we have a good time.”