Charlemont’s Paula Moltzan ready to make Olympic skiing debut

  • Charlemont’s Paula Moltzan, shown here at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup – Homelight Killington Cup at Killington Resort on Nov. 28, is making her Olympic debut this week in the giant slalom and slalom in Beijing. Dustin Satloff/US Ski Team

For the Recorder
Published: 2/6/2022 7:40:40 PM
Modified: 2/6/2022 7:39:10 PM

YANQUING, China — Paula Moltzan hasn’t been a Franklin County resident for very long, but one thing she has known for a long time was that she was going to be an Olympian.

In fact, as the Charlemont resident prepared for her first Olympics in the mountains outside Beijing, China late last week, Moltzan relayed that her mom tells the story that when Paula was nine years old, she said she was going to the Olympics.

“It took me a while to get here, but 18 years later, (at age) 27, I’m at my first Olympics and it’s supernatural,” Moltzan said. “I think every kid in sports dreams of the biggest moment in their life, qualifying and making it to the Olympics.”

Moltzan, who grew up in Minnesota skiing at the same ski area that produced alpine ski legend Lindsey Vonn, attended the University of Vermont, where she won an NCAA alpine skiing title at 22, something that she still considers one of her proudest moments.

While the NCAA championships are one thing, the Olympics are another and while she may be a bit older than teammates making their Olympic debut, the fact that she is here is a testament to the work that she has put in and also of the many paths that you can take to reach your dreams.

“I don’t feel like I’m that old,” she said. “I’ve got really young teammates, so I often forget that I’m 27.

“I feel like I’ve definitely had a different path to the Olympics than most and I’m hoping that is opening eyes to a lot of girls that it doesn’t have to be one way, it can be a couple of different ways,” she continued. “That’s what I’m hoping to inspire the next generation to do. There’s not one path to go, you can take as many detours and pit stops as you like, but you can still get there.”

Moltzan’s path to the Olympics started like many other athletes, as she was named to the US Ski Team at age 17 while a senior in high school. She spent five years on the team, skiing for two years on the D Team, two years on the C Team and then a year on the B Team.

That’s where her path diverged from that of her teammates, however. After her fifth year, she was kicked off the team as her results didn’t reach the expectations of the US Ski Team.

That left Moltzan with only one option to continue competitive skiing: it was time to head to college. So, at 22, she joined the University of Vermont ski team and was granted three years of eligibility. While she had been competing as a professional athlete for five years, the NCAA eligibility for college racing ends at 25, so they granted her those three years.

In her first year as a Catamount, she took the NCAA title, but as she noted in China in preparing for the Olympics, she never really had the traditional college experience, simply because she was older by the time she got there. The Olympic Village has helped to provide her a little of that college atmosphere, as she is staying with teammates in the athlete accommodations.

“I went to school being too old, so I never lived the dorm life,” she said. “So, it’s kind of fun. I don’t often get to room with these girls and so [the fact] that we’re all in one suite together is really awesome and I feel like it’s an extra bonding experience.”

Moltzan had to basically create a spot for herself on the US Ski Team if she wanted another chance. The team offered a time trial for the Killington World Cup race during her second year at UVM. She traveled to Colorado and won the time trial, putting her back in a World Cup starting gate in a state that had adopted her as one of its own.

Then, she promptly crashed at the top of the course.

The next year, the same opportunity arose, and she again won the time trial and this time finished 17 th in the slalom, better than she had ever done before. She earned herself a chance to compete on the World Cup, though had to do so independently.

She brought her then-boyfriend, now fiancé, Ryan Mooney (who grew up in Deerfield and whose family owns Crab Apple Whitewater) on the road with her as her coach and technician and performed well enough that she was eventually given a discretionary spot back on the US Ski Team. Mooney continues on as a technician for the team as well, and he’s with her in Beijing for her Olympic debut.

While Mooney has long called Franklin County home, Moltzan recently moved to the area and is excited to be an adopted east coaster.

“I spend most of my summer in New England, Western Massachusetts to be correct, and I love everything about it,” Moltzan stated. “Ryan and I take lots of trips up to Vermont to go mountain biking and see lots of friends, but when we are home we are usually either on the river, hiking, mountain biking or sitting around a fire with friends.

“I feel lucky to be adopted as an east coaster,” she added.

Moltzan is scheduled to compete in the slalom and giant slalom in Beijing, though things change at a moment’s notice. The women’s slalom was scheduled to take place on Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. in Beijing (8:30 p.m. Sunday night), moved up 45 minutes to accommodate the rescheduled men’s downhill.

The slalom is scheduled to take place at 10:15 a.m. Beijing time on Wednesday, Feb. 9, which is 9:15 p.m. Tuesday night on the East Coast.

Joshua Spaulding is the sports editor for Salmon Press Newspapers (N.H.) and is currently covering the Olympics in Beijing, China. He can be reached at


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