National Academy Awards & Recognition Night Honors Excellence in Instruction

PSIA-AASI National Academies attendees packed the Yellowstone Conference Center at Big Sky, Montana, Wednesday night, April 17, ringing the room with cheers, warm memories, and several standing ovations as they honored some of the true pioneers and rising stars of U.S. ski and snowboard instruction.

Honorees of the evening included U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame member Gwen Allard, one of the true groundbreaking leaders of adaptive instruction who passed away on Nov. 28, 2023, and recent U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame inductee Mike Porter, both of whom were recognized with PSIA-AASI’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

PSIA-AASI Director of Education Dave Schuiling and PSIA Cross Country Team Coach Emily Lovett each received the Educational Excellence Award and former PSIA Alpine Team member and Olympic Gold medal winner Deb Armstrong was honored with the Distinguished Service Award.

Other honorees included:

  • Big Bear, Pennsylvania, Assistant Snowsports School Director Michael O’Neill, who received the 3C’s Award for consistent collaboration, communication, and cooperation.
  • Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado, Ski Instructor Nick Nagey, who received the Angus Graham Rising Star Award for showing promise in charting a career path within the snowsports industry.
  • And Blue Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania, Snowboard Instructor Elizabeth “Liz” Lozinger (now at Vermont’s Jay Peak), and Little Ski Hill and Bear Basin Nordic Center, Idaho, Ski Instructor Cortney Bayuk, who received the Top of the Course Award for individuals who score the highest percentile in people skills, teaching skills, and skiing or snowboarding technical knowledge for Level II and Level III, respectively.

The support for such an accomplished group of instructors and innovators who have and will continue to push PSIA-AASI to achieve new accomplishments reached such a crescendo in the room that Awards and Recognition Committee Chair Robin May, who co-hosted the event with Board Chair Eliza Kuntz, at one point stepped to the microphone to say, “This is good for us, isn’t this? It’s important, too.”

Deb Armstrong, whose singular arc from the top of the Olympic podium to becoming a champion for equity and inclusion in snowsports while also promoting excellence in instruction through her popular YouTube channel, noted how the challenges she has faced in her own professional career has given her the empathy to work to create a sense of belonging for others.

Lovett and Schuiling both stressed how a commitment to collaboration across disciplines is not only key to their goals, but to the success of the association.

Those same messages were reflected in the honors given to Allard and Porter, who each devoted their careers to creating opportunities for everyone to enjoy snowsports, regardless of their skills or physical ability.

“All of us knew her as ‘Mom,’” PSIA-AASI Adaptive Team Coach Geoff Krill said of Allard, “which is what she was and is to a lot of us. All you have to do is look around this room to see her influence and legacy.”

Porter noted that a successful two-hour lesson his mother took while he was young resulted in skiing becoming the family sport and began his lifelong alpine odyssey.

“What if that had been a bad lesson?” he mused, noting how much being a part of PSIA-AASI has informed and enriched every aspect of his life. “I want to thank you for this award, because I am a better person for being part of this community.”

Look for more about each of the award winners in upcoming posts here at You can find out more about each of the individual awards and how to nominate a deserving instructor, right here.