It was drizzling and the gates disappeared into the fog halfway up Superstar. But that didn’t stop thousands of fans from turning out to watch the slalom races at the Killington World Cup today. Mikaela Shiffrin, who started third, seemed to revel in the poor conditions, flashing through the gates and over the 200-meter vertical drop in 52.49 seconds, building a 0.29 second lead over second-place finisher Bernadette Schild of Austria and 0.54 ahead of Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova.
Earning just as big cheers though were several local skiers, including two University of Vermont students—Quebec’s Laurence St. Germain and American Paula Moltzan—and Burke Mountain Academy grad Nina O’Brien. All three made it into the top 30, earning a second run. It’s the first time in a long time three U.S. skiers have made it into the top 30 of a World Cup race, to have two of them be full-time students at UVM, made it all the sweeter.
If you listen to computer science major Laurence St. Germain’s college schedule at the University of Vermont it’s pretty brutal. “We leave at 7:00 am to head to Stowe to train with the UVM team. I’m back by 1 pm and I go straight from the bus to class, I’m in class until 3 pm, it’s the library and then maybe some dryland training — two to three times a week.” That’s just her schedule when the 24-year-old Canadian National Team slalom racer and Olympian isn’t away racing on the World Cup. “Honestly, I love skiing here and not having travel to Europe, plus it’s so fun to have so many of my friends and classmates in the crowd,” St. Germain said after her first run.
St. Germain finished 15th in PyeongChang in the slalom and today (the 22nd World Cup start of her career) she finished the first run in 15th, guaranteeing her a second run. St. Germain and the other racers started in what was a combination of drizzle, sleet and blinding fog. “It’s hard when the water is still on the course. I was lucky as the fog broke a little for me at the top but the course was really inconsistent and you had to be centered on your skis the whole way. ”
“It was really, really hard,” echoed Paula Moltzan, a UVM sophomore, who trains with St. Germain on the UVM team. Moltzan had her best finish since getting 20th at the World Championships in 2015, coming in 28th in the first run today to earn her a second run. Burke Mountain Academy grad Nina O’Brien finished 30th, just making the cut-off for the second run. “I just kept focusing on finding the finish line even though I couldn’t see for a lot of the course.” In the finish area, the two Catamounts hugged and high-fived. “Lo’s a really good friend of mine and it’s so fun to be here with her,” Moltzan said.
“It’s really different racing World Cup than in college where you have your whole team — guys and women — there cheering for you and you feel like your racing for your team, not just yourself. ” Moltzan, who won the NCAA slalom nationals as a freshman, has also been competing on the World Cup. “One of the great things about being at UVM is that Tim Kelley is my coach and he raced World Cup while he was also at UVM so he really understands me and we have this great rapport. He almost doesn’t have to say anything to me after a race, he just gives me a look and I go, “ok, I know, I could have done better.”
Today, he would have given her a different look, most likely a big smile. Moltzan was as excited to finish 28th and earn a second run and World Cup points as any of the top three racers were. “I’m pretty stoked,” she said, bubbling over at the finish. “It’s not easy and you work hard but this makes it worth it.
Preliminary results and second run start list:C51B - Start List Run 2_FIS2019AL5116SLR2
Cover image: Paula Moltzan on her first run at the 2018 Killington World Cup, slalom. photo by Brooks Curran