This Snowboarder Borrowed Skis to Enter an Event, Won Gold And Couldn't Believe It
The Czech Republic's Ester Ledecka is usually a snowboarder -- she's won a world title and competed at the Sochi Games with a board strapped to her feet -- so when she competed as a skier in the women's Super-G, she wasn't necessarily in the hunt for glory. She managed to shock the world, though, by clinching gold in the event, going from relative obscurity to the sport's pinnacle with a near-flawless run on Saturday.
The announcers watching her dart down the course were totally incredulous, remarking on her run excitedly as they watched Olympic history unfold. What's more, Ledecka swooped into first place by one-hundredth of a second on skis borrowed from American Mikaela Shiffrin.
The feat was totally improbable, and Ledecka herself couldn't even wrap her head around the victory once she saw her time. In a transcription from the Olympics' News Service, she said: "I really don't know what happened. You tell me ... I was riding. I really don't know what happened. It was great."
Probably the most dumbstruck Olympic gold medalist of all time, she said: "This must be some mistake, that they're going to switch the time for some others."
In a weird way, Ledecka attributes her unforeseen triumph to the fact that she's not a skier by trade.
"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," she said.
The focus of an uplifting narrative, Ledecka's managed to earn fans by being visbily blindsided by her success. For example: wearing goggles during her press conference because she didn't expect to win, and therefore wasn't wearing makeup, only makes her more endearing:
Question from the floor for Ester Ledecka about why she’s still wearing her goggles - “Eh, I was not prepared that I would be at this ceremony and I don’t have makeup."— Elaine Buckley (@ElaineBucko) February 17, 2018
Another about the snowboard to skiing crossover: “Well, both are down a hill.”
I think she might be in shock. pic.twitter.com/05hkbcNuc7
Ledecka is still set to compete as a snowboarder in Women's Parallel Giant Slalom and could very well see herself taking home two golds from PyeongChang.