Aspen’s Wiley Maple named to Team USA alpine squad for Pyeongchang Olympics | AspenTimes.com

Aspen’s Wiley Maple named to Team USA alpine squad for Pyeongchang Olympics

Wiley Maple stops for a portrait at the base of Aspen Mountain last week. The Aspen ski racer was taking a brief break from the World Cup circuit.

Aspen's Wiley Maple has gone from underdog to Olympian.

The 27-year-old ski racer wasn't named to the U.S. Ski Team prior to the start of the season, but the Aspen High School grad battled his way back from injury to be named to the U.S. Olympic team for next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard announced its alpine teams Wednesday, a list that includes New Castle native and Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club alumna Alice McKennis.

Maple is a first-time Olympian, while McKennis competed in the 2010 Olympics but missed 2014 because of injury. Maple was also injured during the 2014 Olympic season. He missed all of the 2016-17 season because of injury, as well.

He was traveling in Europe on Wednesday and could not be reach for comment, but earlier this month Maple told The Aspen Times the American speed team was coming together and he saw a spot for himself on the Olympic team. There is a downhill race this weekend in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, before the trip to South Korea.

Maple is coming off a strong weekend in which he finished in the points in both speed races on the infamous Kitzbuehel course in Austria. He was 29th in the super-G before taking 22nd in the downhill. He also took 24th in the Bormio, Italy, downhill on Dec. 18, his first World Cup points in nearly two years.​

"I think our speed team is really going to start punching it in soon," he said while in Aspen during the holidays. "We've all been skiing really well. That little session in Bormio with the other teams, we were actually winning the majority of the training runs. Hopefully it will come together."

Maple, who like McKennis is a speed specialist, has continued to associate with the U.S. Ski Team this season in large part due to his relationship with head men's speed coach Johno McBride, a fellow Aspenite and former AVSC coach.

McBride said earlier this season that Maple had a shot and the team didn't have "a lot of guys knocking on the door displacing him at the moment."

"Obviously he's had limited time on his skis in the last five years. But he's a racehorse. He's not afraid to go," McBride said before the Beaver Creek races in December. "Wiley has proven he can score and ski fast on the World Cup, and I want to see him get back to that place. On top of that, he's a great team member. He's good glue for our team."

The men's Olympic races include the downhill Feb. 11, the alpine combined Feb. 13, super-G Feb. 15, giant slalom Feb. 18 and slalom Feb. 22.

acolbert@aspentimes.com