Meet Team Aztech's Speed Racers
It’s World Cup season ladies and gents, that special time of year when the world’s best skiers fly from slope to slope around the globe to compete and find out one simple fact: who is the fastest? To kick off the season, please meet three members of Team Aztech—all speed specialists focusing on the downhill and super-giant slalom events. Between 27- and 30-years old, these guys are pro’s pros, two from the U.S. and one Frenchman from the home of extreme skiing—Chamonix. How do they train, physically and mentally, and what’s it like jetting around the world for the purpose of launching yourself down an ice-covered course at 80 miles per hour?
Aztech Mountain sat down with these three strapping sponsored athletes to find out those answers and more… Without further ado, please meet Wiley “Danger” Maple, Tommy “Beezy” Biesemeyer and Blaise “Blaisou” Giezendanner:
NICKNAME: Danger or WMD (Wiley Maple Danger)
HOMETOWN: Aspen, CO
FAVORITE AZTECH STYLE: Loge Peak cashmere shirt jacket
FAVORITE QUOTE: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”—Hunter S. Thompson
HOMETOWN: Keene Valley, NY
FAVORITE AZTECH STYLE: Team Aztech ski pants paired with a nylon Nuke Suit.
FAVORITE QUOTE: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.”
HOMETOWN: Chamonix, France
FAVORITE AZTECH STYLE: Hurricane Down Parka
FAVORITE QUOTE: “Force et honneur.” (Translation: strength and honor)
What is the one must-have item that you always keep in your ski bag throughout the travel season?
Wiley: Powder skis. There are plenty of weather days and it’s a small tragedy to miss a powder day.
What does your dry land or cross-training regimen look like leading up to the season? How about during season?
WM: Over the summer my main form of training is my mountain bike. Explosive riding and descending is like what you feel skiing downhill. I supplement that with weight training and hockey. Feeling like a well-rounded athlete I think is the best combination for a sport with so many variables on any given day. The ability to think quickly in whatever situation you find yourself in keeps you in the competition and out of the hospital.
Blaise: A lot of gym and weight lifting because ski racing requires a lot of strength… but you can’t spend all summer training inside, so I do a lot of road biking and some hiking and ice hockey training. I have almost the same schedule during the winter to maintain power, but without the same intensity.
Skiing is such a gear-intensive sport. How much does your equipment matter? Would the results change if everyone raced on the same skis?
WM: Equipment is a huge deal in skiing somewhat similar to Formula 1. In an ideal world, I would prefer that everyone was on the same skis and same speed suit material. I believe this would eliminate the need for such massive expenditures by teams and ski companies on equipment and it would level the playing field significantly. But as always in the end it comes down to the “driver” as they call ski racers in Europe.
TB: Equipment is a very important variable… I currently race for Atomic, and that’s one reason why I am able to consistently be competitive on the World Cup. I think there would be a shift in the result sheet if everyone was to be regulated to the same equipment, but the best skiers will always win, no matter what.
A lot of people may not know this, but as a professional skier, you spend a whole lot of time in the lodge or at the top of the venue waiting to actually race. How do you stay focused, do you have any pre-race rituals?
TB: This is really difficult for me and something I have struggled with over the years. Sometimes you will be sitting in the lodge waiting to race for more than three hours, with no place to ski or warm-up. During this time you will have good and bad energy, confidence and uncertainty. I deal with these nerves by doing a prerace routine (core, glute, and fast-twitch muscle activation), listening to music and reading.
As downhill veterans, do you feel more mentally ready having skied these courses in competition before?
TB: Definitely. Skiing without the “rookie” feeling is the essence of veteran status. I have had eight years on the World Cup and I feel ready.
Blaise in Chamonix
Racers are known to memorize every turn and section of each downhill course, what is the one section or turn you are already psyched for?
BG: Going at a speed of 130km per hour on icy snow with only a spandex suit and a helmet, you must know every turn of a DH course. The section I’m already psyched about is the top of the Streif in Kitzbuhel with the Mosefale and Steilang.
WM: For sure I have had every downhill memorized since my first World Cup season. My favorite parts of most courses are high G turns and jumps. So, the bottom of Kitzbuhel I’m always excited and terrified for. Val Gardena and the camel jumps as well.
As you likely know, our brand is named after the run Aztec on the super-G course and formerly of America’s Downhill. What does it feel like to navigate Aztec in a race?
TB: Aztec embodies the essence of ski racing, it’s steep, fast and eliminates anyone who has any doubt. It is America’s Downhill.
Wiley in Aspen
Is there anything that makes the Aspen Mountain venue particularly special or challenging?
WM: I love that it finishes right in town like some of the best European downhills. Prepared properly, I believe it could be one of the best downhill courses on the World Cup tour if it were to return.
TB: Aspen is a mountain that has a wide range of terrain, but what makes Aspen the dream mountain town is the people. It is a common ground for the elite, ski bum and local to express themselves skiing.
What is your favorite non-race activity that you are looking forward to this season?
BG: Ice hockey might be my favorite non-race activity but of course powder skiing is by far the best thing behind a good icy downhill track!
What is the dynamic like between the different teams? Is everyone friendly, or do certain teams stick to themselves?
BG: You can find all sorts of dynamic between the teams on the tour. Some are friendly and some are the total opposite… The North Americans are really friendly with everyone; they make contact with all of us and when you understand their accent they’ll make you laugh for sure!
See You On The Slopes!