Adaptive Snowsports Pioneer Gwen Allard Honored with PSIA-AASI Lifetime Achievement Award

Adaptive snowsports instruction legend Gwen Allard was honored with PSIA-AASI’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Awards & Recognition Night at National Academies in Big Sky, Montana, last month.

Allard, who was elected to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2022, died on Nov. 28, 2023. According to the Hall’s recognition of her achievements, “Gwen Allard spent a half century focusing on helping others learn how to ski, with a particular focus on adaptive. She was one of the first to embrace adaptive education and went on to become a well-respected leader within PSIA-AASI for her innovative teaching methodology and the ability to effectively communicate it to students. Along the way, she was a model of perseverance in rallying the entire ski industry around adaptive sport.”

Former PSIA-AASI Adaptive Team Coach Kim Seevers, who nominated Gwen for the Lifetime Achievement Award, wrote, in part, “Every conversation with her was like a PSIA-AASI history lesson. The stories she shared ranged from hilarious descriptions of examiners’ shenanigans in the early days of PSIA, to sobering stories of the joy adaptive skiing brought to a student who’d passed away too young, to the triumph of a student who’d never experienced the feel of the wind in their face and the snow sliding underneath them.”

“But to me, Gwen’s greatest contribution was on behalf of women in our industry. She pushed and shoved her way into the predominantly male world of ski teaching some 65 years ago. Think about that, 65 YEARS AGO! She shattered the glass ceiling by becoming one of the most influential people, male OR female, in our professional member organization. She became the first director of the Eastern Division of PSIA-AASI in 1975.”

Gwen was also nominated for the honor by Kathy Chandler, one of the first alpine and adaptive certified PSIA instructors and a member of the Adaptive Sports Hall of Fame. ““Gwen was such a leader for the adaptive movement for so many years. I have trouble expressing her achievements and what they meant to the adaptive community. She totally shared her passion for adaptive all over the country,” wrote Chandler.

She added that Gwen’s “dedication and enthusiasm for teaching people with differences made a radical impact on so many people, both for those who followed in her footsteps and those she taught. She helped us get more programs started, developed the processes for teaching all disciplines, and created videos for others to see what she was doing, all to push teaching people with challenges as a very viable endeavor. She could teach anyone to ski no matter their ability, and she believed that all have abilities, not disabilities. Her attitude was always positive, and it rubbed off on us all.”