Clubhouse Chronicles: Q&A with AVSC alumnus and Olympic skier Wiley Maple
Wiley Maple is an Aspen native and former U.S. ski team member who competed on the World Cup. His career began with the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club and finished with a trip to the 2018 Winter Olympics, where he started the men’s downhill. Maple recently sat down with AVSC to reflect on his upbringing and career in this Q&A.
Question: Where are you from and how did you arrive at AVSC?
Wiley Maple: I grew up in Aspen — my first experience with AVSC and Skico was Powder Pandas and then the Ridge Runners program. At some point I won the end of season race with the Ridge Runners and found myself in the AVSC race program the following year. My father grew up racing in AVSC and eventually went on to CU. I’m sure his passion for the club pushed me back into it.
Q: What years were you involved with AVSC?
WM: I probably started the race program in 1998 and am still involved with the ski club as a coach and occasionally athlete.
Q: What are you up to these days?
WM: Woof, too much and too little to be sure. I was forced to retire from ski racing in 2020 with a back fusion. In 2021, I finished college with a degree in philosophy and studio art. I returned home to try to discover what might be next in “this playground of the rich and famous.”
This past winter I taught skiing and coached a little bit, eventually finding my way onto a race course yet again. Hard to say what is next. I seem to find myself continuing to rebel against the status quo with a desire and potentially the skill set to continue to be a skier, writer and painter, so the life of a starving artist continues. Dabbling in several odd jobs waiting for one of those to pay the bills.
Q: What life skills or values did AVSC [and/or your time spent on the mountain] help instill in you?
WM: After I made the Olympics in 2018, I asked my father why he signed me up for ski racing and if this was one of the dreams he had for me. His response was, “Definitely not. I wanted you to learn how to fail, how to build goals and stick with them. Beyond that I wanted you to learn how to ski well and hoped you’d forge lifelong friendships and memories along the way as I did.”
Ski racers seem to grow up much faster than most but stay kids the longest. By the time I was 13, I knew how to manage money, cook and manage my time properly and get to where I needed to go. It helped me learn to deal with adversity, injury and adventure, when things fall apart in foreign lands. It provided the occasions to learn that age old rule written on the back of the guidebook in large red letters: “DON’T PANIC.”
Q: What is one of your favorite AVSC memories?
WM: I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a crew of friends that has lasted a life time. We got in quite a bit of mischief over the years. When we would get to a new location, we’d rush through the house trying to secure the best room. On one of these occasions, I went out on the balcony minutes after arriving and the next condo over had icicles 10-feet long and without thinking I jumped the gap between the balconies and glanced in the windows (all seemed dark). Then I proceeded to start to break these monsters off to the delight of my fellow teammates. Seconds later I was being screamed at by the inhabitants, led through their house after being yelled at to take my shoes off and spit out in the front entry just as one of our coaches was bringing groceries up the stairs. The owner shrieked at the coach asking if he was responsible for this young hoodlum — without batting an eye he said “I’ve never seen that kid before in my life.” I got away with a scolding and a memory that still pleases many.
Q: AVSC’s core values are commitment, teamwork and integrity. Which core value resonates most with you, and why?
WM: The beauty of ski racing is that it’s you against the clock. As an individual sport you can develop your own style and way of attacking the mountain. You have to find your own way and be true to yourself. The clock demands honesty in your passion as at the end of the day it was you and the mountain. So, I suppose integrity is what resonates most with me. Though teamwork, seemingly paradoxically, is what makes it all worth it in the end. Beyond that, teamwork is truly what makes it all possible.
Q: If you were to tell the community one thing about AVSC, what would it be?
WM: AVSC is without a doubt the most important institution in my life. The atmosphere inspires youngsters to chase their dreams and gives them the tools to make them a reality. Along the way you or your kids will forge friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. You’ll develop skills that will aid you in every facet of life. Above all, it will be FUN.
Q: We hear you are a “Freak” … Tell us more.
WM: Ha, I am a Freak. We were born out of the ski club, just a group of like-minded friends that continue to pursue our passions together. What binds us is our friendship and a mentality to do things a little differently than anyone else, a little faster, a little bigger and maybe even a little louder. Somehow along the way we became a bit of a ski gang and like the legends of old there was an author of sorts and we gathered around his table to create a great fable.
Clubhouse Chronicles is a behind-the-scenes column written by the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club that runs periodically in the Aspen Times sports section.