Injury brings end to Maple’s World Cup season
November 15, 2016
The fairy tale season isn't going to happen for Aspen native Wiley Maple.
A member of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team and the two-time reigning national downhill champion, Maple announced this week he will bow out of the 2016-17 season in order to recover from injury.
"Didn't really have a lot of choice. It sucks," Maple said in an interview with The Aspen Times on Tuesday. "The coaches and trainers definitely didn't want me to ski. I've been rushing back the last couple of seasons, so I'm going to have to wait this one out and try to start skiing in April."
Maple, 26, was set to be part of the U.S. "B team" this season. He was eyeing a chance to compete in the FIS World Cup Finals, hosted by Aspen, later this winter. A former Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club athlete, Maple grew up skiing on Aspen Mountain, and even won his most recent national title on "America's Downhill" in March.
But a lingering knee injury will cost him a chance to compete at home when the world's eyes are watching.
"That it's in Aspen makes it 100 percent more important to me, just because it's Aspen. I don't even know if there will ever be another men's World Cup downhill in my lifetime in Aspen," Maple said in an interview with The Aspen Times last month, prior to calling it a season. "It's pretty much all I've been thinking about. It's basically been my dream my whole life, is to be competitive on the World Cup circuit."
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Maple has long struggled with ongoing severe knee pain in his patella, and has had surgery four straight years on it, the most recent surgery having occurred in April. Unlike an ACL, Maple's injury isn't common and required "experimental surgery" to correct the pain. The timeline for recovery wasn't known, and Maple hoped he could heal in time for this World Cup season.
However, with the men downhill skiers getting ready to make their season debut next week at Lake Louise in Canada, it became apparent to Maple he was nowhere near healthy enough to join them.
"It's always hard to miss a season, but this one will be especially hard with the men's World Cup downhill returning to Aspen," Maple wrote on social media this week. "It's time to let it heal properly so I can actually be a ski racer for years to come."
Maple, who currently trains in Park City, said he plans to return to school this winter, where he is about midway through his sophomore season at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.
"Got to do something. Keep moving forward with some part of my life," Maple said Tuesday about returning to school during his recovery. "It's just not feeling good enough to even think about skiing."