Moltzan wins three-way battle at Junior Olympics in Vail
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” The J3 Junior Olympics is becoming a battle between three athletes who make better friends than rivals.
For the second consecutive race, Buck Hill, Minn.’s Paula Moltzan, and Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Katharine Irwin and Celine Guilmineau stood on the podium. In Monday’s giant slalom, Moltzan edged her buddies for first before sharing a victory hug with them in the finish area.
It’s Moltzan’s second victory in as many days on the Golden Peak course in Vail after she claimed Sunday’s super-G crown. Guilmineau won the downhill title on Saturday.
“Me, Celine and Katharine are really tight,” Moltzan said. “We all like to hang out and be around each other.”
They also like to win. Moltzan recorded the fastest time in both runs and won with a combined effort of 1 minute, 34.97 seconds. The winning mark was more than 1.5 seconds faster than Irwin in second place.
“What a great run by Paula Moltzan,” Ski and Snowboard Club Vail coach J.J. Jensen said. “She didn’t ski the pitch real well, but she came through I-70 (a section of the course) and just turned it on. She was like a rocket ship down here.”
Holding a 1.17-second advantage of after the first run, Moltzan was the last of the top 30 skiers to take her second turn when the order was flipped. Instead of keeping an eye on the action, Moltzan did her best to stay loose.
“My coaches told me at the top to keep moving,” Moltzan said. “I didn’t really pay attention to what was going on.”
Irwin and Guilmineau were only 0.05 seconds apart for second and third place. Skiing aggressively at the bottom of the course, Irwin beat her teammate in a time of 1:36.50.
“What I’m mostly working on this season is cutting under the gates a lot,” Irwin said. “I try to let go of my turns.”
Guilmineau became the only athlete to podium in all three races at the Junior Olympics with her third-place finish. With two more athletes on the podium, SSCV has now claimed 10 of the 15 medals so far in the Junior Olympics.
Katie Davidson from Win Racing in Michigan finished in fourth place. Summit’s Julia Cooper took fifth in 1:39.71.
Eva Spaeh (11th) and Kendall VanHee (12th) finished just outside the top 10 for SSCV. Olivia Swift put together two strong runs to take 15th in 1:43.05.
“Eva skied as well as I’ve ever seen her ski,” Jensen said. “She put it down the hill today. Olivia skied really well today.”
Caroline Byrne (20th) secured a spot in the top 20 with a first-run time of 49.77. Mallory Slicker took 26th for SSCV in the giant slalom after taking 20th in the downhill on Saturday.
The girls get a one-day breather from competition when the guys race the giant slalom today in Vail. The girls are back in action on Wednesday in the slalom on Bear Trap at Beaver Creek.
“(Paula, Celine and Katharine) seem to be the guns this week, but anything can happen on Wednesday,” Jensen said. “It’s going to be interesting because a lot of these kids can ski slalom.”
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.