- Czech snowboarder Ester Ledecka won the ladies’ Super-G event on Friday, beating out defending gold medalist Anna Veith of Austria by just .01 second.
- Ledecka is a snowboarder by trade and has only competed in Super-G for two years.
- She had never placed higher than 29th.
- Ledecka won the competition on skis borrowed from fellow gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, who skipped the event after repeated event cancellations forced her to embrace a tightened schedule.
Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic was already set to make Olympic history as the first athlete to ever compete in both skiing and snowboarding events at the Winter Olympics. Now, after what will be remembered as one of the most shocking upsets in Olympic history, she’ll have a chance to win gold in both.
Ledecka is primarily a snowboarder, and has only competed in Super-G for two years. Prior to the Olympics, she had never finished better than 29th in any event.
But on Friday, with Mikaela Shiffrin sitting out due her busy schedule in the wake of numerous weather postponements in the alpine skiing events, the Super-G field was wide open for the taking. Ledecka was ready to rise to the occasion – and even borrowed Shiffrin’s skis to pull off the feat.
Ledecka, just 22 years old, absolutely crushed her run, finishing in just 1 minute, 21.11 seconds, holding off defending champion Anna Veith of Austria by just .01 second to take gold in the competition.
It’s possible that Ledecka was even more shocked with the result than viewers at home. She could be seen shaking her head in disbelief at the bottom of the slope, and asked after seeing her time “How did that happen?”
Take a look at her reaction – it’s hardly the face of someone who believes they just won gold.
You'd be shocked, too. ????
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) February 17, 2018
“This must be some mistake,” Ledecka said when asked what her first thoughts were when she realised she had taken over the leaderboard. “That they’re going to switch the time for some others.”
While it’s obviously shocking that a snowboarder would win the gold medal on a pair of borrowed skis, Ledecka would later say that it’s possible her coming at the course with a different mindset than the competition gave her an advantage.
“I was probably the only snowboarder on site,” she said. “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.”
Ledecka will compete again next weekend in the ladies’ parallel giant slalom snowboarding event, where she is a favourite to take home another gold medal.
Should she succeed, she’ll seal her legacy as one of the most impressive Winter Olympians to ever compete.
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