Olympics: Fun comes first for 'one of a kind' Ledecka

Oscar Cross
March 1, 2018

Later in the day medalists, including the Games' snow queen Ester Ledecká who won gold in the women's super-G and the snowboard parallel slalom, were scheduled to appear on stage at Prague's Old Town Square, to be greeted by thousands of fans and well-wishers inspired by their performances at the Olympic Games.

The 22-year-old is not only the first athlete to win Olympic golds in both skiing and snowboarding but is the only athlete to have ever competed in both events at this level.

Ledecka said her biggest goal coming to South Korea had been simply to race in both Alpine skiing and snowboarding and that the two gold medals were a "huge bonus" that she thought would perhaps come later in her career. "I enjoyed every run and I'm very happy to be here and stand on the highest place", she said.

Ter Mors and Ledecka, who was the first woman to compete in snowboarding and skiing in the same Olympics, nevertheless have upended the belief, propagated in modern-day youth sports in the United States and elsewhere, that early specialization is the one clear path to the Olympic podium.

One week ago, Ledecka stunned a strong field including defending champion Anna Veith and American Lindsey Vonn to win the super-G, becoming one of the stories of the Games. "I've never really been good at anything but racing", she said.

"When people think of us, they think of Prague and Pilsner", says another fan, Markeva, while heading out the door.

Ester Ledecka kept them strapped on, concealing her eyes, as she sat down to answer questions at a news conference.

She must be the greatest athlete at these Games, right?

Ledecka joins Norwegians Thorleif Haug and Johan Groettumsbraten as the only athlete to do a multi-sport double in the same Olympics.

"It was a big burden over the last week", she said.

"I'm really looking forward to get to Europe for different cooking because it's been quite a long time here".

A quarter-final victory over Daniela Ulbing was followed by a semi-final win against Hofmeister, who had pushed her all the way before stumbling.

"It made everybody think about how much better we could all ski the course", Shiffrin added. "What an athlete. It's hard enough doing one discipline in alpine skiing", BBC Sport commentator and five-time Olympian Graham Bell said.

But make no mistake, switching back and forth is not as easy as she made it look.

Whenever Ledecka returns from her skiing exploits, Reiter said, it is akin to having to polish a rough diamond all over again. When reporters grew curious, she explained that winning a gold medal had caught her off-guard. Ledecka recorded the fastest time, she said, and "everybody stopped and jaws dropped, like that run isn't supposed to be skied that way".

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