Vermont ski promoter to run national trade group

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The leader of Vermont's trade organization for ski areas will leave his job this winter to run the National Ski Areas Association in Lakewood, Colorado.

Parker Riehle, 50, who has been president of the Vermont Ski Areas Association since 2006, said he will leave his job sometime in November and be president and chief executive officer of the national group starting Dec. 1.

At the Vermont association, which brands itself as Ski Vermont, Riehle manages a staff of four and represents 21 ski areas. The biggest is Killington resort in Rutland County.

He will soon manage a staff of 12 and represent more than 300 resorts in the United States and Canada. The biggest include Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia and Park City Mountain Resort in Utah, which recently merged with nearby Canyons Resort.

Riehle called it an incredible opportunity to run the national organization. He and his wife, a software engineer for the Agency of Human Services, plan to move to the Denver area later this year.

"It's really exciting," Riehle said. "It's still sinking in, and it's amazing. It's very bittersweet, of course, to leave Ski Vermont and the incredible team we have in the office."

He said he is excited for the challenge of the new job. "To have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take what I've done at the state level to the national level — that just was something I couldn't pass up," Riehle said.

Riehle started with the Vermont Ski Areas Association in 1998 before becoming president in 2006. He is the main lobbyist for ski areas in the Vermont Legislature, which is in session during the ski season. He also attends trade shows to promote Vermont's ski areas.

As president of the National Ski Areas Association, Riehle said, his responsibilities will include lobbying Congress. However, Riehle said he will have dedicated government affairs employees to do much of the government relations work.

Riehle said his strategy at his new job will be to "promote, inspire and empower" the member ski areas of all sizes. He said that while resorts continue to merge into larger groups, he still values small, independent ski areas, where people learn to ski and snowboard and then take vacations at bigger resorts later in life.

Tim Silva, the chair of the National Ski Areas Association board of directors, praised Riehle in a news release. "His industry experience as the long-standing president of the Vermont Ski Areas Association will serve the members of NSAA well," Silva said.

Wendy Knight, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, issued a statement Tuesday praising Riehle as "a formidable force in leading an industry that generates over $1.6 billion in direct and indirect spending in Vermont and drives the state's $2.6 billion tourism industry."

"Under his leadership, the Vermont ski industry has maintained its position among the top ski states in the country for skier and rider visits alongside Colorado, California and Utah," Knight said. "Parker's recruitment for the top job with the National Ski Areas Association speaks to his leadership and expertise, as well as the national recognition of the Vermont ski industry. "

Riehle and his wife, Deidre, plan to maintain their ties to the state and rent out their house in South Burlington, the city where he grew up.

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