Each January, Vermont Sports Magazine publishes the profiles of 10 Vermont athletes who have made our state proud in the past year. Even with race schedules cut short, travel curtailed and being isolated from training partners, these athletes pushed through the year of Covid-19 and showed how you can stay motivated, stay fit and stay on top of the game. Here’s our annual salute to 10 athletes Vermont should be proud of. See a full list of 2020‘s 10 Athletes of the Year in alphabetical order as well as links to previous years’ honorees.
Paula Moltzan’s Second Act
Like her teammate Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Paula Moltzan has been competing at the World Cup level in skiing for nearly a decade. Growing up on the same Minnesota ski hill that turned out Lindsay Vonn, Paula was racing the World Cup by age 18 and won the World Junior Championship in slalom in 2015 and was scoring World Cup points a year later. Then, for 2016/17 she was dropped from the U.S. Team. It was late summer and she hadn’t made plans for college as she had assumed she would be in Europe racing. The University of Vermont scooped her up.
At UVM, with coaches such as Tim Kelley to work with, fellow Catamounts such as Canadian Olympic slalom skier Laurence St. Germain as friends and a boyfriend, Ryan Mooney, a former alpine racer and whitewater kayaker, who became her ski technician, Paula relaunched her career on her own terms… all while pursuing pre-med courses at UVM as a bio-chem major.
Last season, she and Mooney traveled on their own dime to the World Cup and she managed to score enough World Cup points to get back on the U.S. Team. Then, over the summer, she joined his family rafting business, Crab Apple Whitewater in northwestern Massachusetts and worked hard on her fitness. By September the couple were engaged.
Paula came into this season stronger than ever. In her first World Cup in Soelden, Austria on October 10, 2020, she finished 10th in the giant slalom– her best World Cup finish ever and was the top American. From there, she went on to win the Italian National Championships in early November and over Thanksgiving, the time she might have been racing at Killington had the coronavirus not upended the FIS travel schedule, she took second in a World Cup parallel slalom in Lech. Since then, Paula has earned a 9th and 14th, which on a circuit where simply breaking into the top 30 is a challenge, is impressive.
See a full list of 2020‘s 10 Athletes of the Year in alphabetical order as well as links to previous years’ honorees.