Royle steps down from USSA role |

Royle steps down from USSA role

Paul Robbins, Special to the Record

The way Annette Royle looks at it, now’s the time for Act III.

Royle was the director of constituent services for Utah Sen. Jake Garn, and when he retired in the early 90s, she came to what then was known as U.S. Skiing. She was on the staff of the team’s fundraising foundation, did a bang-up job and eventually was promoted to assistant director of events (not just fundraising but taffypulls such as World Cups, etc.)…and then they dropped the "assistant" part – she became director and the organization’s first female vice president.

As it turned out, she wouldn’t be talking to herself at times, she was holding a staff meeting. She was, it developed, director of…herself. "Yeah," she laughed, "I was a one-person staff at the start."

Over the next decade, as U.S. Skiing became the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, Royle had her fingerprints on all the major events which USSA – as it became an events-driven organization for a while – participated, from the Olympics and World Championships to World Cups, national championships, snowboarding’s Grand Prix, and so on. She made it into the premier Events Department within the U.S. Olympic movement and one of the best worldwide.

And Tuesday she said she was leaving, effective June 8. She will be the new president of the Utah chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

"It’s bittersweet," she said. "As the department grew, as we became involved in more things, I wound up moving away from the adventure of those first days…hanging banners and signage – yeah, working with our ‘banner boys’ – and doing all those kind of things that I enjoyed so much."

But, she said, it’s time to move on. "This will be a new chapter, my third chapter, my third act…from politics and serving constituents to USSA and now on to another great organization," she said. "I’m going to miss so many of these people, so many wonderful organizers and volunteers."

In announcing her pending exit, USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt said,

"In the past decade, Annette has overseen a complete transformation of how our organization conducts major domestic events. Her work has created tremendous value for our stakeholders, including athletes, sponsors, TV and media, and our event organizers."

Bob Wheaton, the in-the-trenches, hands-on boss at Deer Valley Resort, paused for a few moments before heading to International Ski Federation meetings in Slovenia to reflect on Royle’s contributions. Deer Valley has moved to front-and-center in the years where Royle was orchestrating events for USSA, including being the Olympic venue for alpine (slalom) and freestyle (moguls and aerials) at the 2002 Olympics, the host of the over-the-moon successful 2003 freestyle World Championships, and, among other things, by consensus of coaches and athletes the premier freestyle World Cup site on the planet.

He’s a card-carrying, "real" Annette Royle fan, he said to preface his remarks, adding with a grin, "She’s the best. I think we’ve been working together since she was about seven…"

One of the things that impressed him the most, Wheaton said, was her ability to listen. She didn’t try to be The Voice of God proclaiming this or that. "She had such knowledge of situations and Annette would say, ‘I think this could be a problem’ or ‘This could be an issue’ but then she’d always add, ‘but here are some suggestions on how to deal with it.’

"She was representing USSA and the athletes – she’s a terrific negotiator, but she also understood the issues an organizer faced. And she definitely was not comfortable in the spotlight, with being the upfront person. It was never about Annette; it was about creating the best possible events," Wheaton said.

Royle, a University of Utah alumna with a master’s from BYU, doled out credit to her "awesome" staff for accomplishing so much. "I’ve been fortunate to work with some truly outstanding people in this job, and whoever replaces me will find out how great they are."

"She knows everyone," according to Wheaton, "so her connections brought great resources to an event, helped keep things focused. She’s a facilitator, so good at identifying potential obstacles and facilitating solutions."

He further noted, "What Annette’s done is incredible. For one thing, she showed a woman can get this job done. This international arena, which she’s operated in, isn’t always the most equal-opportunity environment; the Europeans have had men running things at all levels for decades, but Annette did a helluva job.

"She’s proof positive a woman could get the job done. She showed ’em how to do it…and we’re going to miss her. No question, USSA’s next director of events has a tough act to follow."

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