Deborah Rae Armstrong

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Deborah Rae Armstrong

Birthplace: Salem, Marion, OR, USA
Managed by: Nathan Luke Cowdrey
Last Updated:

About Deborah Rae Armstrong

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 and soccer. After being named to the U.S. Ski Team, she broke a leg and was unable to compete. She finished second in the combined at the 1983 U.S. Nationals, and placed third in a World Cup Super G in early January 1984, five weeks before the Olympics.

At the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, she became the first American woman to win a gold medal in skiing since Barbara Cochran won gold 12 years earlier in 1972 at Sapporo. Taking the silver medal behind her at Jahorina was Sun Valley's Christin Cooper. Later in those games, Phil Mahre and Bill Johnson became the first American men to win Olympic gold in alpine skiing, and Steve Mahre took the silver in the men's slalom behind his twin brother. All five alpine medalists from the U.S. were from the Northwest.

At the World Championships, Armstrong placed 4th in the giant slalom in 1985 and 6th in the Super-G in 1987. She finished 13th in the giant slalom at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. She completed her World Cup career with 18 top ten finishes: 7 in the downhill, three in the Super-G, five in the giant slalom, and three in the combined.

Since 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.

Then Debbie served as an enthusiastic ambassador for Taos Ski Valley, giving away free early morning lessons and U.S. Ski Team stickers for fans of the team. Ski Racing magazine reported a few years later that Debbie nearly died as the result of a tick bite she suffered while hiking. Debbie apparently opted for a dangerous procedure that, while it killed the tick, resulted in the release of all of the tick's toxins at once.

Today, she serves as Alpine Competitive Program Director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, a world-renowned ski club located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Debbie 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.

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Deborah Rae Armstrong's Timeline

December 6, 1963
Salem, Marion, OR, USA