Ester Ledecka: Queen of the 2018 Olympics

Ester Ledecka broke a training barrier and crossed a cultural divide.

By Seth Masia

When Ester Ledecka astonished the world, and herself, by winning Olympic gold in both Super G and parallel snowboard GS, she became the first woman to win in two different sports at one Olympics. It was not only an historic event. Ledecka also fused two frequently combative cultures, skiing and snowboarding, once at war with one another.

The Czech's history-making feat recalls the most impressive Olympic ski crossover of all time -- Norwegian Birger Ruud's performance at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Games in 1936. Ruund won both the jump (gold medal) and the downhill (no gold medal, because in alpine only medals for slalom and downhill combined were awarded that year -- gold medalist was Germany's Franz Pfnur). Like all Olympic alpine racers that year, Ruud was required to use the same skis for the slalom and downhill. His feat surprised few: He was already regarded as the strongest skier in the world. 

David Sedlecký photo

To read the rest of this story, see the March-April 2018 edition of Skiing History magazine. To read the digital edition, you must be a member of ISHA. Not a member? Join ISHA now, for $29 (digital edition) or $49 (print edition), published six times each year.

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