Aspen ski phenom makes professional debut

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenJanuary 18, 2011
Wiley Maple, an Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club graduate, made his World Cup debut over the weekend in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland at Lauberhorn. The 20-year-old finished in 42nd place.

The son of Aspen real estate manager and two-time NCAA ski champion Mike Maple and architect Julie, Wiley Maple has been a standout skier in the Roaring Fork Valley ever since his voice cracked.
Wiley Maple

Two and a half years ago, Maple became the first Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club alpine racer to join the U.S. Ski Team over a decade. Maple won the 2007 National Junior Championships overall and downhill titles and placed second in slalom and third in super G that year too. Recently, the Associated Press said “Maple punched his ticket by impressing U.S. Ski team coaches by his offseason work and results on the North American second-tier circuit, including a win last month at Lake Louise, Alberta.” Two days before Christmas, he was invited to race on the world's biggest skiing stage.

He joined the big dogs Saturday, finishing the historic 2.75-mile Lauberhorn course in 2 minutes, 38.57 seconds.

But his life isn't as glamorous as it might sound.

One the eve of his debut, the good-natured rookie sat on a toilet and allowed his teammates Ted Ligety and Travis Ganong to shave his frizzy locks into a head-turning hairdo — part flat-top, part rat tail.

“They were hacking at it from both sides with a tiny little buzzer and my hair is pretty thick and curly so they were taking big chunks out … ” Wiley told Universal Sports. “They messed it up pretty good.”

The next morning just before the race, Wiley tried to tone down his wild eyes and bushy [rat] tail.

“I tried to calm myself down. Took a little nap in the snow at the start. Then got up, listened to some music and got amped to go,” he said.

So what did he make of Lauberhorn and his Wold Cup premiere?

“There are so many people here. It's so different compared to the U.S. Everybody is stoked to be out here,” Wiley told Universal Sports. “I had a blast. My legs are tired. Real tired. But it was a good first experience.”

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