Wiley Maple eyes spot on U.S. Ski Team | AspenTimes.com
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Wiley Maple eyes spot on U.S. Ski Team

Nate PetersonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colordo

ASPEN Patient Wiley Maple is not.It’s part of what makes him such a promising ski racer. For someone who thrives on finding the fastest line between the start and the finish, it’s not in the genes to downshift.The same rule applies to Maple’s aspirations of competing on the World Cup stage. At 17, Maple has a burning desire to track down his dreams. Now. It’s why these coming weeks will put the young Aspenite’s resolve to the test. After competing in four races at last week’s U.S. Alpine Championships at Maine’s Sugarloaf Resort, Maple now finds himself facing the long wait. After his results have been analyzed, his effort scrutinized, he will find out whether his season of work was worthy of a spot on the U.S. Ski Team’s development squad for next season.It’s not going to be easy.”I’ve been told I’ve got a pretty good chance,” said Maple, who turns 18 on May 25. “I’ve still got a few more races, and hopefully I can ski well in those. I’ve also been invited to a National Development System camp in May at Mammoth [Calif.] and how I do there will be a part of the decision.”The U.S. Ski Team announces its roster for its four men’s alpine teams – A, B, C and D – near the end of May, Maple said. Until then, he plans on racing. First, there’s an in-state, nationally-sanctioned spring series that includes six races spread over four mountains – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Winter Park. That’s followed by a similar series, in California, before Maple heads off to the USNDS camp at Mammoth.After a season full of travel that included a trip to Formigal, Spain, in February to compete at the FIS Junior World Championships, Maple said his energy hasn’t waned.”It’s been a pretty long season, but it’s gone by pretty quick,” Maple said. “I just want to continue to stay strong in these next couple of races.”Maple’s best result in Spain came in the super G, where he finished 15th. His top result at Sugarloaf was in downhill, where, after three days of waiting for good weather, Maple finished 16th. The following day, he took 18th in super G. He didn’t fare as well in the technical races, blowing out in the slalom and finishing 35th in the giant slalom after losing a pole halfway down the course. “I think I could have done better in every event,” Maple said.He certainly could’ve done worse. His results were a drastic improvement from his showing at last year’s national championships in Alyeska, Alaska, where Maple failed to crack the top 20 in four races. A 24th-place showing in downhill was his best result during that week.Maple admitted the field at this year’s championships at Sugarloaf wasn’t as loaded; the top two U.S. men’s skiers – Bode Miller and Ted Ligety – opted out of the competition.”It was a little better last year,” Maple said. “I like racing those guys, because I can try to chase them down. Afterward, your coach has the video, and you get to see them on the same course and compare your run to the best guys.”U.S. team spot or not, Maple said he already has an idea of what the immediate future holds. He’s still considering skiing at the college level, but has already made the decision to defer next year to continue to train and race full time. Maple applied to schools which all boast strong skiiing programs – Denver, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Middlebury -but he said he’s partial to CU.”I’d love to go there because I’m from Colorado, my parents went there, and I just like CU,” he said. “I defintely want to go to college some time, but most kids who are alpine skiers, they usually take one or two years off. It’s hard to make college teams, too.”npeterson@aspentimes.com.

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