American Paula Moltzan starts the 2021-22 season right after her best career to date. Last season, the eight-year veteran of the alpine tech team achieved seven top 10 finishes, crowned by a sharp rise in the late season that ended with a season-best fifth place in slalom in Ã re and seventh place in the slalom world cup final in Lenzerheide.
The 27-year-old native of Minnesota credits her off-season training and inspiration from teammate Nina O’Brien for last year’s success she plans to repeat this season.
Moltzan was the first American to win slalom gold at Junior World Championships in 2015. While studying medicine at the University of Vermont, she became the NCAA Individual National Slalom Champion in her freshman year in 2017. However, her move back to the World Cup stage during the 2019-20 season initially came with some difficulties.
“The year before (2019-20) I would just name one of my worst seasons mentally and physically,” she said. âI had to change my mindset from college to the World Cup, and of course that’s a different fight when you kick out of a World Cup goal against a college goal. I think that threw me into a reset mode. ”
Part of this reset phase was improved levels of strength and fitness achieved after mountain biking, road cycling, and training in the gym twice a day. âI spent a lot of time working on my fitness as Covid (restrictions) accelerated that. I have more time in the gym than ever before. Our programming started on March 1st and ended on September 1st. This is by far the biggest block I’ve ever had in a conditioning phase. ”
Moltzan also took inspiration from teammate Nina O’Brien, who pushed her to become a better GS skier. âI’m more of a slalom skier and she’s definitely more of a GS skier. That helped a lot because we could talk about our work and she could give me tips on how to improve my GS. … She is so good, she is an incredible teammate! “
The results and success of Moltzan in the 2020/21 season confirmed the approach. With the best 303 FIS points of her career, she was most successful in the parallel event, celebrated her first podium, second place in Lech / ZÃ¼rs and achieved a strong fourth place at the World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
âI’m a slalom rider in my blood and Parallel GS is just a narrow form of slalom. I think the key is that I have the pace to keep up with the pretty high GS and I think that is really helpful. I’m also extremely competitive and I really hate to lose. So if you see your competitor right next to you, that’s pure motivation. âShe was unimpressed by the much discussed and often vilified parallel event. âIt’s hard to say whether it’s fair or not, you have to take advantage of these situations. You just have to make the best of it and when you have the short end of the stick, you just have to assert yourself and do your best, because that is what the other person will do. ”
Moltzan took the momentum of last season with him into the off-season and is now trying to bring this steamer to the season opener at the weekend in SÃ¶lden. The alpine tech veteran reported a brief blockade in the gym this summer, but nevertheless confidently assured: âI know that I created such a good foundation last year. I was able to build that up faster than ever in a summer. ”
A training camp in late summer with her women’s technical teammates also strengthens her preparation for the pre-season, as she uses the synergy between the teammates.
âThat (warehouse) was extremely productive and our team has grown by one. AJ Hurt is part of our team now, so we are three girls, all very competitive and aggressive GS skiers who push each other so I would say that is a good preparation. ”
She added: âThe preparation time for SÃ¶lden was extremely productive and I would describe it as successful because we had so many good days in the snow and we made great progress as a team and as individual fighters. I have high hopes for our team. ”
When asked whether she had concrete hopes for SÃ¶lden, however, she did not want to give any specific information: âIn my career I have never really been someone who has set goals for numbers, as this can prevent me from doing so. With all the preparation I’ve done this fall and this summer, I want to just go ahead and ski with all the confidence I have. I’ll stick to the basics, do my best and see what happens on the numbers side. “
Moltzan, a three-time World Cup participant (Vail / Beaver Creek, 2015; Are, Sweden, 2019; and Cortina, 2021), does not expect any change in training or racing strategies with a view to the Beijing Olympics next February, he noted casually , âNo, everything is exactly the same. It’s pretty boring. We just want to keep everything basically as normal as possible. No one is guaranteed a ticket to the Olympics and the only way to get there is by racing to qualify. So you just put your head down I have no intention of thinking about the Olympics until January, when the team is named. “
When Moltzan steps in the gate, she will celebrate her 47th World Cup appearance in her career as part of the US women’s tech team. Perhaps at no point in her career has she been so ready to hit the snow hard, score goals and find green lights at the finish line.