Standing on the dock with Andy Mapple at his Mapple Skis private lake in Orlando, Florida, you can’t help but to feel inspired. Andy is considered the most dominant skier to ever hit the water winning numerous Worlds, Masters, U.S. Open, World Cup, and Pro Tour Slalom titles with 168 professional victories worldwide and breaking 11 World Records during his competitive career. After retiring from professional competition, Andy has stayed dedicated to the sport working with athletes and developing products that will push waterskiing and give everyone from pros to weekend warriors the ability to take their skiing to the next level.
Andy has been with Nautique since 1981 and has played a major role in the company both on and off the water. Most recently, he worked with us in developing the revolutionary Ski Nautique 200 that has seen twelve world records set behind it since its release in 2010. In 2012, Nautique designed the Ski Nautique 200 – Mapple Icon edition personally customized by Andy himself commemorating his domination in tournament skiing. Also in the works with Andy has been the recent release of Mapple skis, taking his wealth of experience and technical knowledge to developing his own brand of high-end slalom skis.
This past year, Andy has been spending a great deal of time on the water behind his Ski Nautique 200 at the Mapple skis testing facility, and rumor has it he will be returning to professional competition for the first time in eight years. First at the Dream Week Tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, and then at the Nautique Moomba Masters in Melbourne, Australia; an event he has won 14 times. Both events will be pulled by the boat he had so much involvement in developing, the Ski Nautique 200. The entire slalom world has goose bumps.
What first inspired you to start Mapple skis?
For so long I have worked for other companies and been very fortunate to have those opportunities. I have learned so much throughout my career and while I was competing, I was very reserved about how I trained, what I did with skis, and was not as accessible as I could have been. By starting Mapple Skis, I am able to assemble a team, design skis, and share the passion I have for this sport and the skiers involved. Team Mapple is a complete company where skiers from around the world can get resources and services to help their skiing and passion.
You’ve also been doing some coaching at your facility correct?
We have a private facility with a man-made lake right in Orlando. We are setup to have ski testing, development and coaching available. A skier can book skiing at the lake by the ski ride, day, or week. It can be booked with any of our team members. However, when there, you never know who may show up for a few sets!
Coaching gives me the opportunity to share my beliefs in slalom, as well as share my experiences, as all of our team members can. Team Mapple coaching and ski setup is not exclusive to our skis. Yes, the skis are available to test, but helping a skier improve or have a better setup is just as important to us.
Who is on the Mapple Skis team?
Our team is growing. Right now our core is Deena, Chris Parrish, Nicole Arthur, Marion Mathieu, and myself. What I really enjoy is seeing our customers come and hang at the lake or R&D facility just to enjoy being around what we do. They are all my team and it is growing!
What are your plans for 2013?
To enjoy what we are doing and make a difference. 2013 will be our first real season and we have one first impression. We love this sport and we are appreciative to be a part of it.
How long has it been since you skied in a pro event?
I think my last pro event was 2005. I skied in an event early season that year in West Palm Beach. Getting old though you know and the memory is not what it used to be!!
We hear you may be competing in a couple of pro events this season; what inspired your return?
The ski company has inspired my skiing again. I am involved and living the sport again. I feel that with the company, I am actually skiing again and figuring out how to get things done and win! BUT if I feel we win, it will be our customers that I hope win the most. Getting back out there a “little” helps me connect with the skiing world first hand. This is a big inspiration to feed off others passion and continue to grow mine. Both tournaments will be pulled by the Ski Nautique 200 so the setup and timing are a perfect fit.
How has your training been going?
It hasn’t been too much. I took some time off after Thanksgiving and figured I would get going at the start of the year. Been a little busy lately, so skiing has been sporadic. I have days where I can put out a decent score, but not enough skiing base in the body to train each day right now! Skiing in these couple of 36mph events in Acapulco and Moomba is purely an opportunity I could not pass up. I am not in the same league as the pro skiers of today anymore, but I can tell you I will give my best, have very competitive feelings and enjoy every minute of it.
You are the most recognized name in skiing and have been involved in the most important innovations in the industry from the development of skis, to speed control, to boat design. Where do you see the sport going and what do you think the industry needs in order to grow from where we are now?
I can get very opinionated on this subject! I love the technical aspect of the industry; designing skis and working in R&D for Nautique and Zero Off are all part of my motivation. From a sport standpoint we need change in how events are run and organized. We have driven the cost of an event way too high; the rules have taken over too much! I would like to see the sport and industry be together more on identifying “who we are” and “where we are going”. That’s probably enough said right now on that!!