Winter Olympics 2018: Ester Ledecka creates history with parallel giant slalom gold

01 March, 2018, 07:31 | Author: Evan Mason
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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 world champion became the first woman to capture gold medals in different sports at the same Winter Games after beating German Selina Joerg by nearly half a second in the final.

On Saturday at Phoenix Snow Park, the 22-year-old was indeed the best "snowboard girl", capturing gold in the snowboard parallel giant slalom, finishing almost two seconds better than any other competitor in the qualifiers before winning all four knockout rounds by 0.40 seconds or greater.

"It feels nearly unbelievable, but we came out here with great intensity and just had to believe we could do it, and make our shots", said America's Matt "Ham" Hamilton.

"I felt it was a mistake", she said afterward.

The Czech is only the fifth person to win gold in two different events at the Winter Olympics and is the first athlete to win golds in two unrelated disciplines.

Ledecka's success in the super-G was a huge shock as she upstaged defending champion Anna Veith by 0.01 seconds and Lindsey Vonn finished sixth. Even her snowboard coach, Justin Reiter, the former U.S. snowboarder, doubted as recently as last fall that Ledecka could perform at a high level in both.

"I really enjoyed the race today".

"I have worked so hard to be here, on the podium", the 30-year-old said.

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"I dont think so, no", she insisted.

Standing 5-8 and a solid 150 pounds, Ledecka is that rare athlete who takes joy in the grind required to succeed, Reiter said. "A lot of people were telling me that it is not possible to get to the top in both and obviously it is not easy", she told a small group of reporters.

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

"Today was a big day for snowboard Ester!".

"When she comes back from snowboarding she always goes too round and when she comes back from skiing she always goes too straight so it's always back and forth with the line".

"There are the greatest athletes in the world here", she told reporters. Ledecka recorded the fastest time, she said, and "everybody stopped and jaws dropped, like that run isn't supposed to be skied that way".

She did the same after winning gold in the parallel giant slalom.

"Do whatever you want", she said.

But Niskanen attacked early - less than 20km into the race - and held off the competition to win by 18.7sec from Russians Alexander Bolshunov and Andrey Larkov. "And she is going home with two gold medals in her pocket", he said.


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