Aspen’s Wiley Maple wins U.S. National Downhill |

Aspen’s Wiley Maple wins U.S. National Downhill

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Aspen's Wiley Maple, at left-center, receives congratulations in the finish area after posing the fast time of the day Sunday during the U.S. National Downhill at Aspen Mountain.
Dale Strode / The Aspen Times |

Aspen’s Wiley Maple, who grew up skiing at Aspen Mountain, celebrated a national championship there Sunday.

Maple, the 25-year-old Aspen racer, won his second consecutive U.S. National Downhill title on a course known as America’s Downhill.

The Sunday downhill was held as part of the NorAm Cup Finals, which run at Aspen Mountain all week.

An experienced six-year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team with scores of World Cup starts including recent races in France, Austria and South Korea, Maple ignored the pressure of racing for a national championship at home.

Instead, he raced — like always.

“Pressure? Pressure to win?” Maple said in the sun-soaked finish area at the base of Lift 1A. “Not pressure. More expectations. I was expected to win here.”

He did.

“This is my hill. I ski this every day when I’m here,” Maple said as the rest of the field completed their races down Ruthie’s Run to Aztec and the steep frontside of the Lift 1A terrain.

Mastering a tricky course set, Maple blasted across the finish line in the Sunday sunshine in 1:41.48. just edging Canadian Ski Team veteran Jeffrey Frisch (1:41.52). Frisch is 31.

Erik Arvidsson, the 19-year-old from California, finished third in 1:41.92. Arvidsson had finished third in Saturday’s opening NorAm downhill at Aspen Mountain.

“Best snow … at the top of the course,” Maple said. “Good up there.”

His early split indicated a very fast start.

After a slowdown in the second section, Maple rapidly gained time down Aztec and onto Spring Pitch, the steepest sections.

“Aztec was bumpy,” Maple said, recounting how he set up from the big airplane turn at the bottom of Spring Pitch onto Summer Road.

“There were gates all over (on Summer Road),” he said, “slowing us down.”

When he turned down onto Strawpile, Maple said he knew he was fast — too fast.

“I went … way too straight. I was hitting panels … all over the place,” he said. His wild finish held up in the 52-racer field.

Coming on the heels of a strong second-place finish in Saturday’s opening NorAm Cup downhill, Maple said he’s happy with his momentum.

“I hope I can get back here (at Aspen Mountain) next year and ski with the big boys,” Maple said of the 2017 World Cup Finals, scheduled for Aspen Mountain one year from next week.

Morgan Priddy of Canada won the Saturday downhill in a revised NorAm schedule with races moved up one day because of the upcoming weather forecast.

In addition to the Saturday and Sunday downhills, there are super-G races scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at Aspen Mountain.

Team races will follow with the giant slaloms set for Thursday and slaloms on Friday.

Breezy Johnson of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, won the women’s downhill Sunday after finishing third in Saturday’s DH.

Jacqueline wiles of Oregon was second Sunday. She won the Saturday downhill.

Valerie Grenier of Canada finished third on Sunday. She was the silver medalist on Saturday.

Galena Wardle, a product of the Aspen Valley Ski Club, finished 10th in both downhill races.

Aspen’s Dairinn Bowers was 18th on Sunday and 19th on Saturday.

Because of the NorAm Cup Finals, there are numerous closures in place on the Ruthie’s/1A side of Aspen Mountain.