The women’s World Cup season opener kicks off tomorrow, and American Paula Moltzan has been hard at work preparing for the event, building confidence toward her second World Cup GS start.
Moltzan left for Europe on Sept. 2, along with teammate Nina O’Brien, ski technician and boyfriend Ryan Mooney, and her coaching staff. After arriving in Soelden 12 days ago, she has been focusing on key technical changes this preseason that keep her grounded on her skis and confident on her equipment setup.
Unlike the men, whose plans were impacted by unfavorable weather, the women were able to get some solid training this fall.
“I’m working on staying low and staying connected to the snow, and not cutting off the top of my turn so I can arc into the turn,” said Moltzen. “I’m finding a direct line and arcing through that line, although arcing the entire face of Soelden is a different story.”
Moltzan had previously been scheduled to return home to resume slalom training, but after setting a fast giant slalom pace in training, opted to stay in Europe to try her luck in the opener. It will be Moltzan’s first time racing Soelden, and she’s coming into it with bit of confidence having trained on the hill last season. Although race conditions are always different, Moltzan acknowledges Austria’s attentiveness to creating good hill preparations and is hopeful that conditions hold up for the weekend.
“I do know what it’s like, although race day is always so different,” said Moltzan. “Conditions are different every year.”
Typically, Moltzan would take to the hill to free ski before a race, but due to recent snowfall, the free ski has been canceled and instead she will spend the morning training before race day on Saturday.
As far as race day planning, Mikaela Shiffrin spent time on Monday with Moltzan and the three other starters to talk about race tactics and the best way to execute the course. Shiffrin had some good insights into her mental approach, as well as tactics for gaining speed, where speed is lost, and what it feels like to have a good run at Soelden.
“I’m a little nervous but I’m mostly excited to see how it plays out,” said Moltzan. “It’s kinda interesting because no one really knows what’s going to happen during the first race of the season. You always ask, ‘What did everyone else do this summer?'”
Moltzan is crossing her fingers that the race will take place on Saturday and is excited to start the season.