Aspen ski racer Wiley Maple prepares for another season on the World Cup
Wiley Maple has had plenty of reason to quit and he knows the end is closer than the beginning. But the 29-year-old Aspen ski racer also believes he still has enough left in the tank to keep chasing his dreams on the “white circus” that is the World Cup.
“As soon as the effort-to-fun ratio starts changing, that’s when it probably becomes less worth it,” Maple said. “Last year since I felt so healthy and was skiing pretty well and just felt like I got robbed, a big part of continuing to go is feeling like I haven’t even slightly reached my potential. So I keep fighting for the results and the feeling that you want to feel on a World Cup downhill. And it’s still fun, so that’s probably the biggest part.”
Maple, who finished 30th in the 2018 Olympic downhill, is once again not officially on the U.S. Ski Team but nonetheless is set to embark on another World Cup season. He made his World Cup debut in 2011 and has had a tumultuous but wildly entertaining run since. Injuries have cost him a couple of seasons in there, his relationship with the national team has been on and off, and luck hasn’t always been on his side.
Yet, Maple still finds he has plenty of fight in him. His 2018-19 season included plenty of good skiing, but the results were rarely there. His only World Cup points came when he finished 28th in a downhill in Val Gardena, Italy. But Maple also feels he wasn’t that far off the pace, had he only gotten a few more breaks.
“For the most part I was skiing pretty well last year,” Maple said. “Pretty dry year for me. But the skiing was there. Luck wasn’t on my side, it seemed.”
Maple’s season ended with the traumatic loss of his ski technician and best friend Sam Coffey, who died in May while vacationing in Mexico. Coffey likely would have joined Maple on the World Cup for a second season this winter, but instead Maple has turned to fellow Colorado ski racer Will Gregorak to aid him. Gregorak is a former U.S. Ski Team member who last competed in 2015.
Still, Maple knows Coffey’s influence won’t be far away.
“I think about him every day still,” Maple said. “He’s going to be on my skis. He’s part of my skis, because he put in some of the work for those skis, and obviously he’s part of me because he helped create who I am.”
Nothing is guaranteed for Maple this season. He plans to head to Lake Louise and Beaver Creek over the coming weeks for the season’s first speed races, although he’ll have to earn a starting spot during training for each race.
He’s spent the past few weeks training at both Copper Mountain with the rest of the U.S. Ski Team and at the Stapleton Training Center at Aspen Highlands. Maple said he’s happy with how training has gone, but won’t know how that will carry over to actual races until he slides out of the starting gate.
“It’s hard to know where you are at, just based off the training camps and stuff,” Maple said. “Some of the training camps go really well and you feel like you are totally in there, then others you just seem a little bit behind or whatever. It depends on where you are training and who you are training with.”
Before Maple heads to his first races, he will host a fundraising event from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Red Onion in Aspen. There will be a silent auction with roughly 40 items to bid on that will help fund Maple’s latest World Cup endeavor.