“How did that happen?”
Czech Republic’s Ester Ledecka shocked the world Saturday in PyeongChang (Friday night in America) when she took down Lindsey Vonn and the rest of the super-G field to become maybe the most unlikely gold medalist in the 2018 Winter Games.
Ledecka beat the defending champion Anna Veith (Austria) by just 0.01 seconds.
Here are the 7 most incredible facts on Ledecka’s stunning victory:
—She’s also a snowboarder.
Ledecka’s background on the snow comes both via board and skis. The 22-year-old first made her worldwide debut at Sochi in the 2014 Winter Olympics in parallel giant slalom snowboarding, though she didn’t medal.
She is the 2017 world champion in the snowboarding parallel giant slalom. She competes in the parallel giant slalom snowboarding event next week in PyeongChang and when she begins that race, she will become the first athlete ever to compete in both snowboarding and alpine skiing in the same Olympics.
Ledecka’s first skiing competition came in February 2016 in Germany.
“From the start, there were a lot of people who would say, ‘You cannot do both; you need to specialize, otherwise you will never reach a higher level,'” Ledecka said in a New York Times article. “Since I was 14, I already had these discussions with my coaches about, ‘you need to choose and blah blah.’
“And I said, ‘No, I want to go in both and if it matters to you that I do both, then I need to choose another coach because this is the way I will do it.'”
—Even she didn’t believe it:
She thought it was a mistake:
—Ledecka wore her ski goggles to her post-race press conference because she “wasn’t prepared to be at the ceremony and I don’t have makeup on.”
—This is the first gold medal in the history of the Czech Republic in alpine skiing.
—Ledecka has never finished a downhill skiing race higher than seventh, which she accomplished in December 2017.
In the super-G event in particular, Ledecka’s highest finish was 19th.
—It’s in her blood.
Ledecka’s grandfather is Jan Klapac, who has two Olympic medals (silver, bronze) as a member of the Czech hockey team in 1964 and 1968.
—Ledecka used Shiffrin’s skis for the historic run.
The Atomic skis Ledecka used for her gold medal run were a part of Shiffrin’s collection from last season.
Shiffrin received new skis this season and passed her old Atmoic skis to Ledecka, who has used these skis all season. It is not known whether Saturday’s gold-medal-winning skis were actually a part of Shiffrin’s racing collection at any point.
Shiffrin — the No. 1 skiier in the world — was not participating in the super-G, opting to take time off after a disappointing slalom run Friday in South Korea.