Moltzan zooms to podium in Austria |

Moltzan zooms to podium in Austria

Moltzan zooms to podium in Austria

Paula Moltzan reacts after one of her runs during Thursday’s parallel giant slalom in Lech-Zurs, Austria. She earned the first podium of her career, finishing second.

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled installment of “Mikaela Shiffrin Watch: 2020-21” to give a shoutout to Paula Moltzan.

Yes, if Mikaela Shiffrin skips an event, does a World Cup exist? It’s sort of like a the old question of whether a tree falls in empty forest, does it make a sound?

Quite possibly the stupidest question ever asked — which is really saying something — in the history of the World Cup came at the 2013 Raptor races, the test event for the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships here at Beaver Creek. Now known as Lara Gut-Behrami, Lara Gut was asked if winning a race here meant anything less because Lindsey Vonn was out with an injury.

Gut, who like every other racer out there has dealt with a ton of injuries, was tactful in saying, “It’s not like a tennis match where two people are playing against (each other). Here, we’re 60 in the gate. If Lindsey is not here, we’re 59. She’s a really a strong skier, but World Cup is not just about Lindsey.”

So yes, even if no one’s in the forest — aka, Shiffrin has the day off — a tree fell on Thursday in Lech-Zurs, Austria, and it made a darn big sound.

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Paul Moltzan, 26, of Lakeville, Minnesota, the University of Vermont and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, popped into second place during Thursday’s World Cup parallel giant slalom for the first podium of her career.

“Congratulations, @PaulaMoltzan,” Shiffrin tweeted. “This is the best Thanksgiving EVER. Pop the bubbly!”

Indeed, congrats to Moltzan. She was fifth-fastest in qualifying, making the Round of 16 knockout phase. She took care of Gut-Behrami and Italy’s Marta Bassino before falling to Petra Vlhova, who’s beating everyone these days, in the finals.

“It was really good, the snow conditions were unbelievable,” Moltzan said in a U.S. Ski Team press release. “The snow held up for every round, so that was a really nice thing to experience as well as the lights were awesome. Obviously, we were missing the crowd, but I had a great group of teammates cheering me on in the finish.”

Fun trivia from NBC Sports: Moltzan is the first American woman not named Shiffrin to medal in World Cup technical event since some lady named Lindsey Vonn did it on Dec. 12, 2015. (She won a GS in Are, Sweden.)

“I’m kind of overwhelmed, but I’m really lucky and really excited to have a great team to share it with, so I’m excited to see all of them and get the hugs…and I can’t wait to talk to my mom,” Moltzan said.

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