Molly Moyning has her eye on a pair of three-peats this year. There is clearly one this winter, when Highland Park Senior will attempt to win a third straight girls’ state Nordic skiing individual pursuit title, nothing achieved as Jesse Diggins races to Stillwater.
Then there is the even more rare potential achievement.
“I also want to do a three-peat with cross country, Nordic and track this year,” Moining said.
Three sports, three individual state championships. And while all three sports are endurance-based, crossover success isn’t as common as you’d think.
Only two boys – Hastings Tori Craftson in the early 1990s and Garrett Heath of Winona in the early 2000s – have won individual state titles in both cross country and Nordic skiing, and no girl from Minnesota has achieved the feat. is of.
Moining already has two Nordic skiing titles under her belt, and she finished second in last fall’s TC Running Company Showcase cross country race — last season’s unofficial state meet — behind only stillwater phenom Annalee Weaver, who won Graduated degree.
Moining said there are more similarities between Nordic skiing and running than people think. The required aerobic endurance is obvious.
“They’re training well for the other. You can get fit doing each of them, you can avoid running injuries by skiing more, because you still get the same aerobic benefit as the injury. Helps with prevention,” she said. “Then with striding, there is a similar movement between skiing and running. Sometimes we like to do what we call running on skis, and it’s not exactly the same speed, but it’s uniform, and we do that to climb steep hills. ”
So why aren’t more athletes elite in both sports? Moining said many people focus more on one than the other. In skiing, you need aerobic fitness, but strength and power play a big role as well. Where the common belief in running is that thinner and lighter is the recipe for faster running.
“But I don’t think that’s the case,” Moining said.
Neither is her father, Brad, Highland Park’s cross country and Nordic skiing coach. Brad said Molly is a “powerful kid”—a possible byproduct of her skiing—and thinks it helps her run, too. She pointed to her mile time on the track last spring, where it destroyed her former personal record. And his 5K times continue to improve, too.
Molly took up skiing and drove her whole life.
“I’ve been on skis for literally as long as I’ve been running,” she said. “I’ve been on skis for as long as I could walk. So that’s two things I’ve been doing since a young age.”
She participated in youth races and club events. Brad said that Molly was always in one race or another, whether it was hers, hers or her older sisters. Both sports are family affairs.
“She’s probably been in more ski races and running races than anyone,” Brad said. “At dinner, we’re always talking about what happened, who ran, how they ran and stuff like that. I think everything seeps in there by osmosis.”
Early in middle school, Molly assumed her future lay in running, as she developed dreams of competing in college and perhaps even the Olympics. But by the time she entered high school, skiing had become her primary love, and that sport became her main focus.
Still, she takes so much pride in being successful in both. Moining forgets that many athletes don’t compete in both sports, because at Highland Park, so many kids—many of whom are good friends—do.
“But it’s definitely a huge source of pride when I’m in a race and I can beat people I know because running is their main sport, and I think I can still keep up with people.” I can ski when sometimes my focus is on skiing,” she said. “It’s great to have both of them, because you’re not going to mentally exhaust yourself by focusing on one of them, so separate the two. It’s really nice to be able to focus on different things and focus on different things. Them. I love being able to say that I am good at both of them and that I can excel at both of them. It’s great.”
That same month, Moining attended a ski camp with the National Training Group in Park City. Shortly thereafter, it was time to return to St. Paul for the start of the high school cross country season.
Such is the life of Moining. She likes to do both sports. Nordic skiing is a priority right now as she looks at college options, but she’s also looking at potentially taking both to the next level. Why not? It has worked well so far.
But before college comes this goal-driven senior year. He wasn’t surprised when Brad was told about Molly’s senior-year aspirations.
“It is who he is,” he said. “I think when a kid starts winning races, it all kind of snowballs into confidence. When you put yourself in a position to run ahead, a kid gets used to running ahead. And then it’s kind of like ‘Oh, I belong here.’ She was kind of young on that hump. She’s been like this.”
He said a school year filled with three different state titles in three different sports would be an ultimate show of consistency.
“There are a lot of variables in play,” he said. “In skiing, you have a lot of technical things that can go bad. While running, you can catch a cold, COVID, all this stuff, and sometimes it’s not your day. Has been a consistent racer. She’s a level-headed kid. Doesn’t get too mad, doesn’t let down, and I think it definitely helps her.”
So, if anyone can do it, it’s probably really Molly Molly.
“I think it would be the best way to end my high school career,” she said.