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To the Snowboarder Who Won Gold in Skiing

Ester Ledecká, from the Czech Republic, celebrates winning gold in women’s Super-G.

World champion snowboarder, Ester Ledecká, won a gold medal in the women’s Super-G event, then a week later won gold in the Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom. To put it briefly, she made history.

The 22-year-old from the Czech Republic was the first athlete to win gold in two separate sports in the Olympics. This is the true mark of athleticism. She was the 26th athlete out of the gate for Super-G and news platforms had already declared Anna Veith the gold medalist for the skiing event. Then, on a pair of borrowed skis, the snowboarder beat Veith’s time by 0.01 seconds.

She also beat pro-skier, gold medalist, and narcissist Lindsey Vonn — at her own sport. Vonn did come back saying that Ledecká deserved the medal, which is surprising because she has also said in the past that snowboarders don’t belong on the same mountain as skiers. Ledecká sure proved her wrong.

This is the true spirit of the Olympics, where favored gold medalists are suddenly knocked down by a truly unsuspecting athlete. Ledecká was the first athlete in Olympic history to compete in both skiing and snowboarding. Each of these sports requires their own dedication and training, and yet she put aside the vast difference between the two and still won two gold medals.

Ledecká herself was surprised to win the Super-G event. Even Kiefer and I had thought the podium was filled. So, we were basically checked out by the time the 26th skier came to the gate. We had gotten up to get snacks, checked our phones, and stopped paying attention in general. However, being snowboarders ourselves, our attention was drawn back to the screen when we heard the commentator announce there was a snowboarder at the starting gate.

At the end of her run she just stared at the scoreboard. She didn’t celebrate. She didn’t break out in tears. She didn’t take off her borrowed skis and hold them high in the air. She just took a minute to process what on earth was actually happening — creating history.

After her post medal-winning conference for this event, it was time for her to turn on “snowboarder girl.” It was now time to give back her borrowed skis from gold-medalist Mikaela Shiffrin and take her natural stance on one board, where riders would then be wondering if a skier could out-ride them in the Parallel GS. Which in the case of Ester Ledecká, that is a yes.

I truly admire this woman. It took a lot of difficulty for her to go from ski-brain to snowboard-head in a week — and at the Olympics. She deserved that gold medal more than any other skier on the hill that day. Then to turn around and win another gold in a different event, I can’t help but drool at her skills on the snow. It is no wonder why her coach called her a “once in a lifetime athlete.” This is the beauty of the Olympics, the surprise that lies within these athletes can make history.

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