Streif debut lasts a few seconds for Aspen’s Wiley Maple
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
KITZBUEHEL, Austria – Wiley Maple’s first run down the famous Streif downhill lasted only a few seconds as he crashed at a steep starting section and lost his skis before ending up in a safety net.
The Aspen native escaped injury during Tuesday’s training run, and later skied down into the finish area. The course is one of the most challenging in World Cup skiing.
“I don’t feel hurt now,” Maple said. “A bummer that I didn’t finish. But it’s kind of fun, crashing and not getting hurt.”
The 21-year-old American said the course had always had a special appeal to him.
“I dreamed about it as a little kid and it’s pretty crazy that now I get to race here,” said Maple, who made his World Cup debut a year ago at another classic venue – Lauberhorn in Wengen, Switzerland.
Maple said he wasn’t nervous for his first run on the Streif but was distracted by officials briefly stopping him at the start.
“I was held at the start for a little while,” he said. “I got pretty relaxed while I was at the start and that was probably not a good thing. I wanted to go and I started relaxing more and when it was time to go, I couldn’t charge up as much.”
While speeding up, Maple prepared for a turn and was transitioning to get to his left foot when the tips of his skis crossed, leaving him no chance to react.
“I lost all my skis and stuff and got out,” said Maple, who was the only one of 65 starters not to finish.
Maple was issued a warning by the International Ski Federation for breaching the rules because he got back onto the course and skied down after his crash.
“This is really a big issue,” FIS race director Guenter Hujara said. “If a racer carries on after the start-stop signal from the jury, we have no control whatsoever. This is very dangerous.”
The 3.3-kilometer Streif course, known for its intimidating turns and bumps, has been the scene of several serious crashes. Scott Macartney of the United States, Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland and Hans Grugger of Austria all suffered near-fatal head injuries after crashes.
For Maple’s teammate Travis Ganong, it was only his second year visiting the course. He said he could imagine how Maple felt before the start.
“Last year, I was nervous. It was unknown, first time going to the moon,” Ganong said. “This time, I know what to expect. It’s more enjoyable, more fun. It’s a really cool hill.”
Maple said he was looking forward to Wednesday’s second training session.
“I really want to finish … and figure out the track a little bit,” he said. “It’s your first time so you want to get all the training runs you can get. I will have my first training run again tomorrow.”
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