U.S. B Team members Paula Moltzan and Nina O’Brien are making moves in Europe. After 10th- and 15th-place finishes at Soelden to kick off the season, Moltzan and O’Brien returned to racing at the Italian Championships in Sulden, Italy.
Moltzan last saw victory in Italy in 2015 at the Junior World Championships. In January 2015, Moltzan captured three victories on Italian snow, and has since landed in the top spot. That changed on Nov. 11, when the 26-year-old tech specialist finished at the top of the slalom podium at the Italian national championships. She has not yet won a ski race in any other European country, but starts the season with momentum in her favor. Immediately behind Moltzan was teammate O’Brien and the Slovenian Meta Hrovat. The 16-year-old Zrinka Ljutic had a remarkable finish in fourth in her first FIS race.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Moltzan before heading into the World Cup opener in Soelden. “I am feeling really confident on my equipment setup this year.”
The fall provided a strong preparation period for Moltzan who worked on technical changes and finding a direct line in her skiing. At the World Cup opener in Soelden, she moved from bib 62 to a top 10 finish in just her second World Cup start. After success in Soelden, she headed home for 10 days before returning to Europe for the remainder of the World Cup season with teammate O’Brien.
O’Brien stepped into the spotlight on the GS day, winning by just 0.01 second. O’Brien’s favorite event has always been GS. Earlier this fall, O’Brien expressed her passion for the discipline, which has always been her favorite event, as slalom days can be “hit or miss.” But O’Brien did not hesitate to share how her time in slalom complements her GS skiing.
“There is nothing better than skiing a good slalom block,” said O’Brien. “But then I have a good GS block and I love it.”
O’Brien has established success in GS and slalom early in the race schedule. With both ladies in the top 15 at Soelden, and now two Italian champions, the pair will be heading into the World Cup season a plenty of momentum.