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Moltzan Thriving on World Cup

Former Ski Cat star having best season in Europe
Published: Jan. 31, 2021 at 11:09 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - January is the busiest time of the year for Paula Moltzan and the other members of US Skiing’s “tech team,” the competitors who focus on the slalom and giant slalom.

“Training started at 9,” Moltzan said. “I took 6 runs of GS, and that takes about like two-ish hours.”

But so far, it has been worth it for the former All-American out of the University of Vermont. After taking three years off the full-time FIS World Cup circuit to attend school, Moltzan is having the best year of her professional career in her second Winter back in Europe.

“College kind of taught me a lot,” Moltzan said. “In college you have to be a really consistent ski racer, and that really helped me. But now, moving into the World Cup circuit you have to be a little less consistent. Since everyone’s so good, you have to be pushing but also skiing consistent so you kind of have to find that balance of pushing outside your comfort zone, but still enough inside your comfort zone where you can find the finish line.”

Moltzan and the team have traversed the continent training and competing over the past few months, but their home base has been Austria, where the course conditions remind her of Vermont.

“We just came off the World Cup in Courchevel (France), and I would almost put that as like Colorado, West Coast snow where it’s like pretty dry, not a lot of moisture in it,” she said. “As soon as you move to Austria, Central or Eastern Austria, it becomes more like East Coast, so it’s like a little rainier here. It’s like definitely a little firmer, more slick.”

And familiarity with those types of conditions seem to have made a difference: Moltzan picked up her first ever GS and slalom top tens this season in Austria...but it was in the parallel giant slalom in Lech that she made her biggest statement.

“I got my first podium!” Moltzan said. “It was kinda like a childhood dream come true along with pride. And like I was happy to kind of show people that ski racing, you don’t have to come from one standard background. You can kind of take some detours in your career and still make it.”

Taking Petra Vhlova, arguably the best skier on the Women’s World Cup circuit right now, down to the wire was a thrill, but one thing that has been missing this year is the roar of the crowd. Like most other sporting events, the FIS World Cup has been running without fans. But it’s somewhat of a blessing in disguise.

“It’s definitely weird, and eery is definitely the word to use,” Moltzan said. “Ski areas are shut down, so there’s not public on the mountains. That’s basically what it comes down to and it’s honestly kind of nice.”

Of course, there’s a drawback as well.

“I haven’t seen my parents since I went home,” Moltzan said. “Last year, my parents came to Europe for three weeks to watch me ski, and that was super nice and I was lucky. But it’s definitely hard not having family around but as you know my fiance/boyfriend/technician travels with me, so that definitely makes it a bit easier.”

As for the rest of the way...

“I’m looking to build on the progress I’ve made through this season,” Moltzan said. “It’s already been a great season so it takes a little pressure off. So I would like to just keep the momentum going and kinda just remember to have fun and remember why you’re doing it and not take yourself too seriously.”

Moltzan missed a couple weeks with an asymptomatic case of COVID-19, but is now back on the circuit. The World Cup season runs through late March.

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