Paula Moltzan competes at the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Parallel Giant Slalom on Nov. 26, 2020 in Lech, Austria.
A 10th-place finish in giant slalom last month was Paula Moltzan’s best career world cup finish, but she blew that away on Thursday with a second-place finish in women’s parallel in Lech/Zuers, Austria.
The 26-year-old had to really earn it, too, beating world cup veterans Marta Bassino of Italy and Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland in the head-to-head event, setting a matchup with overall world cup points leader Petra Vlhova of Slovakia in the final. Facing a .21 second deficit after their first run, Moltzan crashed just before the finish line in the second. Lech/Zuers is the only world cup event scheduled to have a parallel race, a non-Olympic discipline.
Moltzan is the first U.S. woman besides two-time Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, who sat out Thursday’s world cup, to make the podium in a world cup technical race since Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn did so on Dec. 12, 2015. And that’s not the only thing Moltzan and Vonn have in common. Both Minnesota natives, they each got their start on the modest slopes of Buck Hill in suburban Burnsville under the tutelage of coach Erich Sailer.
Moltzan has been an occasional participant on the world cup calendar, competing in seven events in 2019-20. A 2017 national champion in slalom at the University of Vermont, Moltzan is currently a member of the U.S. Alpine B Team hoping to make her first Olympic Winter Games in 2022.