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Paula Moltzan grabs first Alpine skiing World Cup podium

Petra Vlhova edges out Paula Moltzan when the two go head-to-head during the Alpine skiing World Cup.

American Paula Moltzan continued her Alpine skiing ascent, even with a crash on Thursday.

Moltzan, a 26-year-old who learned to ski on the same small Minnesota hill as Lindsey Vonn, finished second in a World Cup parallel event in Lech, Austria. It marked her first career World Cup podium. It was nearly a first victory.

“I was really hoping for, like, a top-30 today,” Moltzan sheepishly said before the finals.

She was neck-and-neck with Slovakian Petra Vlhova in the second of their two head-to-head final runs before crashing with three gates left under the lights.

“I’m kind of overwhelmed, but I’m really excited,” said Moltzan, who has raced World Cups on and off since 2012, notched her first top 10 last month and made her first parallel start Thursday. “I can’t wait to talk to my mom.”

Vlhova, the world giant slalom champion, earned her third World Cup win in six days and extended her overall standings lead. She was .21 of a second faster than Moltzan in their first final run. Moltzan erased the deficit early in the second run before falling.

“Every run was like a final,” Vlhova said of the bracketed, knockout-style format. “I am really tired and destroyed.”

Moltzan beat veteran World Cup race winners Marta Bassino of Italy and Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland to reach the finals. Gut-Behrami ended up third. Full results are here.

Moltzan, bidding for her first Olympics in 2022, became the first U.S. woman other than Mikaela Shiffrin to make the podium of a World Cup technical race since Lindsey Vonn on Dec. 12, 2015.

Shiffrin sat out Thursday’s event to gain training ahead of December races and following a back injury that hampered her preseason.

The men race a parallel event at the same venue on Friday, live on Peacock Premium. A full streaming schedule is here.

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