Dual sport Olympian Ledecka shocks with super-G gold

17 February 2018 04:42
Ester Ledecka on her way to super-G gold
Ester Ledecka on her way to super-G gold -
Agence Zoom

Snowboard World Cup parallel world champion Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic, who is the first athlete to compete in two different sports at an Olympic Winter Games, crossed the finish line in the ladies’ super-G in absolute disbelief. Wearing bib 26, she charged down the course, not without error, but always with speed under her feet. At the finish line, the scoreboard showed a green light with a 0.01-second advantage over defending gold medalist Anna Veith of Austria. 

The athlete, who had never secured a World Cup podium in alpine skiing but who has handfuls in snowboarding, thought the clock was mistaken. Even after the cameraman in the finish area told her she was the winner, she could not believe the time. 

“How did that happen?” she asked while shaking her head.

Despite being bumped to silver, Veith still completed her incredible comeback story following a two-year return from a devastating knee injury. To even be on the podium was a massive accomplishment for the Austrian who has battled to return to top form on the World Cup circuit. 

Tina Weirather, a regular on the World Cup super-G podium and last season’s discipline standings winner, became the sixth athlete and third woman from Liechtenstein to claim a medal at the Olympic Games with bronze on the day. Weirather now joins her mother, Hanni Wenzel, with a medal of her own.

The race program was delayed by one hour due to strong winds in the morning, but ideal racing conditions ultimately prevailed with clear skies and calmer breezes. 

The ladies remain at Jeongseon Alpine Centre for downhill training over the next three days ahead of Wednesday’s downhill race.

 

Ester LEDECKA 

On how she skied so fast:

"I was probably the only snowboarder on site. All the other girls didn't risk a lot. There must be a lot of pressure on them. I was just trying to do my best run."

On how she managed to beat the field by one hundredth of a second:

"I really don't know. You tell me. I was riding. I really don't know what happened. It was great."

On when she saw No.1 on the scoreboard:

"This must be some mistake. That they're going to switch the time for some others."

On whether she believes it now:

"No, still not."

On how she succeeded in super-G as a world-champion snowboarder:

"I don't know. I am so surprised about all of it. I'm really trying to win and do a good run every time but I didn't really realise that this really can happen."

On whether she ever dreamed of winning Alpine skiing gold:

"Yes, for sure, many times. I thought this will come much later on in my career. But this is great, if it can happen like that."

On her family's reaction:

"I saw just my mum. We didn't really understand what happened. I was asking her if it looked good and if I didn't miss any gates.

"I think they're as surprised as me."