An alpine ski racer for Team USA at the Winter Olympics is generating a lot of enthusiasm on the campus of the University of Vermont, where she was previously a standout collegiate athlete.
"I’ve been dreaming about being an Olympian since I was 9 years old," said Paula Moltzan, smiling. "I’m really excited to represent Team USA."
The slalom specialist is a Minnesota native. The daughter of ski instructors today calls New England home, living in western Massachusetts with her fiancé, Ryan Mooney.
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Moltzan raced to the 2017 NCAA championship during her first year at the University of Vermont.
Moltzan’s pre-med education at UVM is currently on pause for competitions, but will resume, she said in an interview with NECN & NBC10 Boston.
"I’m looking forward to the day that I can move back to Vermont and live there full-time," Moltzan said. "I cannot wait to be close to great beer and good friends and just being able to mountain bike basically everywhere and ski everywhere, whenever you want. I miss Vermont with my whole heart."
Moltzan vowed to "put everything on the line" to try to earn a medal for her fans in both Vermont and Minnesota.
Moltzan’s former UVM teammates are brimming with pride over their fellow Catamount’s Olympic debut.
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"It’s obviously good for the program to have her there," said UVM graduate student Francesca English, who competed alongside Moltzan on the UVM Alpine Ski Team. "Even though she’s representing the U.S., she still represents us a bit, as well, so it’s definitely fun to have that connection."
"Whenever there’s a race happening, I have to go and watch on Peacock and just get my daily fill of watching Paula go," added Rachael Desrochers, a UVM alumna who also was a collegiate teammate of Moltzan’s. "She needs to give me less heart attacks when she’s going down the course, because I’m constantly stressed. I’m like, 'Keep it together!' But I think she could definitely get a podium. She has it in her. She has it in her for a World Cup — she has in her for the Olympics."
While Moltzan does plan to return to UVM to finish her degree, she will be unable to compete for the Catamounts again, since she has now aged out of her college eligibility, she explained.
The medal hopeful said her motto each race day is "Remember to have fun." That love of the sport is what got Paula Moltzan to the Olympic level, and what still propels her.
“If you’re not having fun and still in love with it, it’s not worth it,” the Olympian said.
Moltzan said she was really bummed, of course, that COVID-19 control rules in China meant her parents couldn’t be there to watch her race. But her fiancé is at the Olympics, serving as her equipment tech.