Project Paula

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This Season’s Surprise Star Needs a Little Help From Her Friends

When the World Cup Season kicked off in Killington, seeing Mikaela Shiffrin atop the podium was excellent, but it was not a surprise. The real surprise for American ski fans was seeing Paula Moltzan sitting in the leader seat –AKA the Hot Seat— during the second run, as she moved up from 28th place to finish 17th. Moltzan, the 2015 World Junior Slalom champ, is in her third season racing full time for the UVM Catamounts on the NCAA circuit. She had earned her Killington World Cup start by winning a time trial in Colorado. Her performance in Killington earned her a start in the next World Cup slalom in Europe, in Courcheval, where she again made the second run. Just as she had done in Killington, she put down the 4th fastest second run, which this time moved her from 27th to 15th.In Flachau, she again spent significant time in the hot seat moving from 27th in the first run all the way up to 12th in the final standing. This time her second run was the second fastest of the day. 

All that time in the hot seat is prime TV viewership. Until now she has spent it in her UVM helmet featuring the conspicuous Catamount. UVM figures prominently in Moltzan’s life. After the Flachau race, she and her boyfriend Ryan Mooney—who is also her ski tech and coach—got on a plane to make it home in time for both of them to race in the first NCAA carnival of the season. The day after that, they returned to school, where Moltzan is a pre-med student. She and Mooney will keep up with their classes and training at UVM then return to Europe where Moltzan will race in Maribor, her final World Cup race before representing the US in the World Championships in Åre Sweden. Her Killington result alone qualified her objectively for the World Championship team, and her consistent upward trajectory, with steadily improving start numbers, solidifies her as not only a participant but as a legitimate contender.


So far, Moltzan, who is not a named member of the US Ski Team, has undertaken her World Cup adventure on her own, with the critical support of Mooney as well as their combined friend and family network.  A friend from the Berkshire East community, Mooney’s home ski area, connected them with his friends in Montafon, Austria, and the town offered up a home base and rolled out the red carpet over Christmas. US Ski Team Coach Magnus Andersson connected them with the Swedish Slalom team, who welcomed them for training.  All of this helps, but to put the enormity of her effort in context, athletes at this level–consistently scoring points and popping top five runs—typically have a service tech, a coaching staff, a physio and full financial and logistical support. Moltzan has Mooney, and a boatload of talent. The two are upbeat about the adventure, but admit it has been hard managing World Cup level prep and performance, while sometimes not knowing where they would train or even stay the next day.


The World Cup Committees at each venue pay for lodging and food at each race for Moltzan (not Mooney), but the two are responsible for their own flights to and from Europe and all travel between races. The US Ski Team has fully integrated Moltzan at races, is getting her a uniform, and is working to reallocate resources to her, while also honoring and fulfilling their commitment to named and injured athletes. The US Ski Team’s World Championship budget is based on a set team size, so once Moltzan gets to Åre her expenses will be covered. It is unclear how much of Mooney’s expenses, if any, will be covered. In the meantime, setting up flights, vehicles and training—all in foreign countries— is a big nut, both logistically and financially. In just this upcoming month the couple will travel to Maribor for the final World Cup before the World Championships, and possibly return to the states—where she has a secure training and living situation at UVM—before flying back to Sweden, and making their own way to Åre.

Moltzan and Mooney, enjoying the moment.


What do they need to keep this excellent adventure going, to see just how fast and how far Moltzan can go? “Checks!” is their simple answer. Another financial hurdle is that NCAA rules prohibit Moltzan from launching a fundraising campaign (like gofundme or rallyme) and from having contracts with any of her ski sponsors. While Rossignol has been supportive with equipment, Moltzan can’t hold her skis up during interviews or while in the hot seat. So long as the money goes towards her expenses, however, she can accept personal donations. Even more importantly—hello potential sponsors—she can secure a headgear sponsor and feature it front and center, where the UVM Catamount now resides. If the previous races are any indication, Moltzan will be getting some good time in front of the camera.

So, BRING IT ON PEOPLE—spread the word and be part of this story! Donate if you can. Share this with friends and businesses who might want to be part of Project Paula by supporting and encouraging a bold athlete who has serious World Class chops. Let’s show Paula the love and make it happen!!!!

If you’d like to help, please contact Paula. She welcomes any support!

Paula Moltzan
21026 Monterey Ave.
Prior lake, MN 55371

Phone : 6124622764
[email protected]