Winter Olympics 2018: Ester Ledecka wins historic skiing-snowboard double at Pyeongchang with parallel giant slalom gold

Pyeongchang: Ester Ledecka completed a historic Olympic double on Saturday when the Czech star romped to snowboarding parallel giant slalom gold to add to her shock super-G title in alpine skiing.

Gold medallist Ester Ledecka of Czech Republic. Reuters

Gold medallist Ester Ledecka of Czech Republic. Reuters

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 almost half a second in the Pyeongchang final.

"It was quite tough to change myself back into a snowboarder," said Ledecka, already the first athlete to compete in snowboard and alpine skiing at a Winter Olympics.

"But today suddenly the snowboarder girl showed up and I was just riding with confidence and enjoying the race.

"Today was a big day for snowboard Ester! Today was something very special Winter Olympics – I'll think about this moment until the end of my life."

One week ago, Ledecka stunned a strong field including defending champion Anna Veith and American Lindsey Vonn to win the super-G, becoming one of the stories of the Games.

Ledecka joins Norwegians Thorleif Haug and Johan Groettumsbraten as the only athlete to do a multi-sport double in the same Olympics.

Haug did the cross-country and Nordic combined double at the 1924 Olympics and Groettumsbraten won the same events at the 1928 Games.

Ledecka never looked threatened in a giant parallel slalom competition she was expected to dominate, beginning the day by overpowering 2014 gold medallist Patrizia Kummer to avenge her loss to the Swiss in the Sochi quarter-finals.

The Czech, dubbed a "miracle on snow", then blew away Austrian Daniela Ulbing, who had narrowly avoided running over a squirrel in winning her first race.

Ramona Hofmeister was no match in the semi-final, wiping out as she tried in vain to catch Ledecka. The German finished with the bronze.

"In the skiing I really didn't believe what happened," said Ledecka, asked which gold medal tasted sweeter.

"My plan is to stay with my heart so for now I think I'll continue to do both because I love both."

Ledecka started skiing aged two and first strapped on a snowboard at five. She has competed at world championships in both disciplines, although she had never medalled on skiis before the Pyeongchang Games.

Two other athletes have won multi-sport gold medals at the Winter Olympics – Finland's Heikki Hasu won the Nordic combined title in 1948 and cross country four years later, while Russian Anfisa Reztsova bagged cross country gold in 1988 and biathlon titles in 1992 and 1994.

The men's gold medal Saturday went to Nevin Galmarini of Switzerland, who beat South Korea's surprise finalist Lee Sang-ho.

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Updated Date: Feb 24, 2018 14:40:05 IST

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