Gwen Allard - Adaptive skiing pioneer
Gwen Allard, a leader in adaptive ski programs and a member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, died November 28, 2023. She was 86.
Born in Schenectady, New York, Allard started skiing at age four and began teaching in the early 1960s. Mentored by Bruce Gavett, an early innovator in adaptive skiing, she founded the Gore Mountain Adaptive Program in the mid-1970s. After earning her Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Level 3 certification in 1974, she became executive director of PSIA-Eastern in 1975, where she also founded the PSIA-E Foundation.
In the 1980s Allard worked with Disabled Sports USA and persuasively pushed PSIA for the development of standardized, professional teaching methods for adaptive instruction. By 1987, PSIA and its divisions were training and certifying adaptive instructors.
With passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, Allard became a prominent consultant to the resort industry. She successfully lobbied for the addition of an adaptive skier onto the prestigious U.S. Demo Team for the 1991 Interski Congress held in St. Anton, Austria, which paved the way for acceptance of adaptive athletes in other events.
In recognition of her contributions to the adaptive community in New York state, Allard was honored by President George W. Bush, Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In 2001 she was named to the Adaptive Sports Hall of Fame. A year later, she was recognized by PSIA with its Educational Excellence Award, one of its highest honors. She was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2022.