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Countdown to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Career-best Fourth for Moltzan at World Champs, Top-10s for Radamus and O'Brien

By Mackenzie Moran
February, 16 2021
Paula Moltzan competes in Tuesday's parallel at World Championships
Paula Moltzan fought hard to finish fourth in Tuesday's parallel competition at the 2021 FIS Alpine World Championships in Cortina, Italy. (Alexis Boichard - Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

For the first time ever, athletes had the chance to compete for a World Championship medal in the notoriously exciting parallel event. Paula Moltzan led the way for the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team on Tuesday in Cortina, finishing just off the podium in fourtha career-best for the University of Vermont alumni at World Championships.

“It definitely was a really long day, but it was filled with lots of good turns and lots of good times and I’m happy with how I performed,” reflected Moltzan. “Obviously you’re always hoping for a medal, but this is my best result ever at World Champs.”

Moltzan made two significant comebacks in the round of eight and quarter-finals to eventually meet France’s Tessa Worley in the small final, eliminating Austria’s Stephanie Brunner and favorite Wendy Holdener of Switzerland along the way.

In her competition for the bronze, Moltzan capitalized on the red, fast track on skiers left in her first run, creating a half a second deficit between her and Worley. However, a small mistake in her second run combined with the disadvantage of the slower, blue course put what would be her first World Championship medal just out of reach. At the end of the day, Worley would take the bronze, behind Austria’s Katharina Liensberger and Italy’s Marta Bassino—tied for first

“Today definitely is a great starting spot for the rest of World Champs I’m just going to hope to build and make good turns for myself and have the whole team build with me,” said Moltzan.

Earlier in the finals, Nina O’Brien had a tough match-up against Holdener, who eliminated the 23-year-old American in the round of eight. Despite not advancing to the quarter-final round, O’Brien still enjoyed the day. Her 10th place finish in Tuesday’s parallel event is, thus far, the best World Championship result for O’Brien in her career.

“I would have loved to keep skiing,” explained O’Brien. “[Parallel is] really fun and I love this event, it’s exciting and you never really know what’s gonna happen when you’re going head to head. So I’m bummed, but I think I skied pretty well, it was a tough match-up against Wendy [Holdener].

In season’s past, much debate has taken place over the fairness of the parallel event, given the impossible feat of setting two perfectly identical courses. To eliminate as many disadvantages as possible, the format has been updated to take on the nature of parallel giant slalom, which requires athletes to complete each turn around the gate rather than busting through them as is standard in parallel slalom. To accommodate for different course sets, each athlete takes a run on both the red and the blue course, battling it out against their opponent to overcome any time deficits created from their first run in their second run.

The sheer amount of head-to-head runs is what makes parallel an absolute battle for all athletes involved, both mentally and physically. By the end of the event, the top two competitors will have completed eight runs in the finals alone before gold is decided. 

River Radamus found a way to overcome these challenges more than once, capitalizing on the speed of the red course to overtake his half-second deficit behind Slovenia’s Zan Kranjec in the round of eight. In the quarter-finals, Radamus lost out in a match-up with Croatia’s Filip Zubcic, who would go on to earn a silver medal after losing the big final to France’s Mathieu Faivre. Switzerland’s Loic Meillard finished with the bronze.

“We can tell that the red course is faster, but you gotta ski both courses, and you’ve gotta take the positives of each course,” commented teammate Radamus, who had the best finish of the day on the men’s side in eighth overall. “The goal is to try and build up the deficit as much as you can on the red course and survive it in the blue course and I just couldn’t do it that time.”

“[The courses] affect everybody’s performance, it’s just the reality though, you can’t set a perfect dual,” Radamus added. “You have to beat the person on the combined two courses; whoever does that wins.”

AJ Hurt, Kaite Hensien, and Luke Winters also pushed out of the start gate for the United States on Tuesday morning in the qualifier but did not qualify for the final race.

Up next on the docket for the tech athletes competing in the 2021 FIS Alpine World Championships is the team event to take place on Wednesday, Feb. 17, where Tuesday’s competitors in parallel will take on the other nations for a chance to win a medal as a collective.

RESULTS
Women’s World Championships parallel
Men’s World Championships parallel

HOW TO WATCH 
All times EST

Wednesday, Feb. 17
6:00 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Team Event - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN
6:00 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Team Event - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Streaming Peacock

Thursday, Feb 18
4:00 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Giant Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Streaming Peacock
6:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Giant Slalom - same-day broadcast, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN
7:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Giant Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN
4:30 p.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Giant Slalom - same-day broadcast, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN

Friday, Feb. 19
4:00 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men's Giant Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN
6:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men's Giant Slalom - same-day broadcast, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN
7:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men's Giant Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN

Saturday, Feb. 20
4:00 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast Olympic Channel
7:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast Olympic Channel
5:00 p.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Slalom - same-day broadcast, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN

Sunday, Feb. 21
4:00 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men' Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast Olympic Channel
6:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men's Slalom - same-day broadcast, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN
7:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men's Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN
12:00 p.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Slalom - same-day broadcast, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBC