Huge shock as Ledecka wins super-G
Ester Ledecka (CZE) looked as shocked as anyone at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre when she snatched gold from Sochi 2014 gold medallist Anna Veith (AUT). Veith claimed silver at PyeongChang 2018, while Tina Weirather (LIE) added to her family’s collection of Olympic medals with bronze.
Ledecka, who was skiing down in 26th position, is better known as a snowboard parallel giant slalom world champion, and will compete in that event in PyeongChang next week. She is the first Czech to have won that event at the FIS Snowboard World Cup, but she was not expected to be among the contenders in the Alpine super-G on 17 February. She took gold by just 0.01 seconds, despite making two errors. At the bottom of the course, Ledecka stood frozen, staring at the clock in disbelief at her time of 1:21.11.
Veith had been poised to become the first female Alpine skier to win two consecutive super-G Olympic gold medals. She has been on the comeback trail from a knee injury and so had not been among the favourites for Olympic super-G gold. But the 2015 super-G world champion picked up more and more time as she descended the course to finish 0.10 seconds ahead of Weirather.
Family affair continues
Weirather’s parents both had success in Alpine events at the Olympic Winter Games and world championships. But the 28-year-old’s error on the Dragon’s Back section of the course meant she couldn’t add a gold medal to the family trophy cabinet.
Lara Gut (SUI) finished fourth, just missing out on a medal to make up for her giant slalom run on 15 February, when she didn’t complete the course. The top-ranked super-G skier this season, Gut might have done even better, but for a mistake right at the bottom of the course.
The grand veteran of Alpine skiing, Lindsey Vonn (USA) tackled the course first, but couldn’t add to her huge medal collection, finishing joint sixth with Italy’s Federica Brignone.
Ledecka’s gold is the first Alpine Olympic gold by a Czech athlete. “I was wondering what just happened,” said Ledecka. “Is this a kind of mistake? I was thinking, ‘Ok, they’re going to change the time. I’m going to wait for a little bit and they’re going to switch and put some seconds on. I was just staring at the board and nothing was happening and everybody was screaming. I started to think, ‘Ok, this is weird.’”
In an attempt to explain the result, Ledecka said: “I was probably the only snowboarder on site. There must be a lot of pressure on [the other women]. I was just trying to do my best run.”
Veith clocked 1:21.12 to win silver. “I thought I had gold,” she said. “For me it was a big surprise that she could do this. At first I thought, ‘Is this a mistake? But I want to congratulate her because she had a really good run.”