Molly Moening of St. Paul Highland Park is the 2021 Star Tribune Metro Girls' Nordic Skier of the Year. Photo: Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Last spring, as the coronavirus pandemic shut down high schools and extracurricular activities throughout Minnesota, St. Paul Highland Park’s Molly Moening went to work.
A more wide-open schedule led Moening, one of the state’s top cross-country runners and Nordic skiers, to a routine of 6 a.m. workouts and some additional afternoon sessions. She used the popular recreational areas on the Mississippi River’s western banks, logging many miles in and around Coldwater Spring and Minnehaha Regional Park.
“By themselves, the workouts weren’t overly impressive,” said Brad Moening, her father and coach. “But those 20 weeks added up. She got some muscles on her.”
Fast forward to the Nordic skiing state meet on March 11. Moening, a junior, doubled-poled the entire classical race. She taxed her more-developed arm, shoulder and abdominal muscles — and built an 11-second lead on the field. She won the freestyle race as well and claimed her second consecutive state meet title at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
“I was grateful to be able to have a state race,” said Moening, the Star Tribune Metro Girls’ Nordic Skier of the Year. “Winning it was extra special.”
Moening personifies the “excessive moderation” approach her father asks of all his Highland Park athletes.
“When you’ve got a crazy goal, it gets you out of bed in the morning,” Brad said. “Because you know you’ve got to do something to get it.”
Molly Moening’s next goals: Lead the Scots to a second Nordic skiing team title in three years and join Stillwater great Jessie Diggins as a three-time individual state champion.
“To accomplish both of those goals senior year would be super special,” she said.