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Meet the Matriarch

Meet the Matriarch

81-year-old Bryce Maple’s sweet — until you meet her on the racecourse
Maple and Son

By Kara Munsey

Welcome to Miami — the Miami Ski Club, that is, where the late Pauline Borovicka Arias was the first female president, and a founder of the Florida Ski Club.

She didn’t begin skiing until she was 40, but spent the next four decades flying fast down NASTAR courses, winning the women’s Platinum Division (ages 80 to 84) in 2007.

Skiing from Florida was the least of Pauline’s obstacles, however. She fought cancer several times until 2009, when she died from leukemia. To honor her drive and enthusiasm, NASTAR established the Pauline’s Cup.

And just as not everybody can manage to find powder from palm trees, not everybody can be eligible for Pauline’s Cup. It’s only to be claimed by a female aged 80 to 84, and in 2014, the honor went to Bryce Maple.

Her response? “I’m very proud!” says Maple during a phone interview from her home in Aspen, where she’s lived for nearly 45 years.

A native of Vancouver, B.C., Maple really learned to ski when around age 21, when she was working at a chalet at the base of the Columbia Ice Fields. There, she met her future husband, a ski instructor named Chuck. The two lived in Banff and Jasper in Alberta and in Mount Snow, Vermont until 1968, when Chuck visited Aspen during the world congress Interski. Maple recalls his return from the event: “‘Sell the house, we’re moving to Aspen!’”

Maple worked for the Aspen Center for Physics and at Bonnie’s Restaurant located mid-mountain at Aspen, racing whenever she found the time. She’d commute to Bonnie’s by riding the gondola to the top of Aspen and then skiing down to the restaurant; at the end of the day, she’d click her skis back on to head home. A plaque now hangs in the eatery that reads: “Bryce Maple: 30 years of skiing to Bonnie’s, 4,900,500 vertical feet.”

In 1994, a friend encouraged Maple to participate in the Senior Games at Breckenridge, where she promptly won a gold medal in GS.

Twenty years later, another friend, Martha Madsen, encouraged Bryce to compete in Aspen’s NASTAR course. Madsen had heard about Pauline’s Cup, and, knowing that Maple had just celebrated her 80 birthday, insisted that she compete in the NASTAR races. Madsen even bought Bryce a punch pass for the Aspen course; the two both raced, and both qualified for the Nature Valley NASTAR Championships at Aspen.

Two of Bryce’s three children also competed at the 2014 Championships. “They just decided since it was happening in Snowmass, and I was going to be out there, that they should come,” says Maple of her children’s participation in the races.

Mike Maple, a former racer at the University of Colorado and two-time NCAA title champion with the University of Colorado team, won the men’s platinum division for ages 50 to 54. Marlene Mickey, Bryce’s daughter and also a former youth ski racer, was second in the women’s platinum division for ages 55 to 59.

Is the Maple name starting to ring a bell? Wiley Maple, Bryce’s grandson, has been on the U.S. Ski Team since 2008 and is slated to compete at the upcoming 2015 World Cup downhill in Lake Louise.

What’s it like to be the matriarch of such a family? Maple answers with a laugh, “It’s pretty awesome.”