The Unexpected Olympic Gold Medal
This week we will move from the pool to the ski slopes and talk about at that unexpected Olympic Gold Medal in skiing at the past Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Every International sports event has athletes that are expected to medal at international events such as the Olympics. The past winter games have proven that sometimes it is true and that there can be an athlete that will rise above their expectations. Olympic dreams can certainly come true with the right determination and just giving it your best and believing in yourself no matter what anyone else thinks or says.
I remember watching the Super G, it was a field packed with big names such as USA skiers Lindsey Vonn, Germany’s Victoria Rebensburg, Lichtenstein’s Tina Weirather, power houses Italia, Austria and Switzerland with a total of 45 skiers to come down that mountain. US skier Lindsey Vonn is first out of the start gate and puts a time of 1:21.49 and now the rest of the world must chase that time down. Four skiers do chase down that time with Austria’s Anna Fenninger in first place, Lichtenstein’s Tina Weirather in second place and Switzerland’s Laura Gut in third place. With most of the skiers down the hill and there are no strong skiers left that could possibly change the outcome of this Olympic Super G race everyone was happy and having little celebrations. Even the commentator on television thought the medalists were standing at the finish waiting for the official finish of the race. However, there was a 22-year-old from the Czech Republic coming down the slope with really no chance of winning, so everyone thought.
The 22 year old from the Czech republic, Ester Ledecka had the absolute race of her life, finishing just .01 seconds in front of Austria's Anna Flemming. The expression on Ester’s face and her reaction was priceless and the rest of the field, let’s just say they were speechless. Ester Ledecka later said in an interview that when she was at the finish line and saw her time and place that she thought it was a mistake and was waiting for the corrected time and placement. Ester Ledecka just wanted to have a good race and that she did. She shocked the entire skiing world that day skiing on borrowed skies. She left PyeongChang with that unexpected Olympic Gold Medal in alpine skiing and an Olympic Gold in parallel giant slalom in snowboarding and became the first ever female athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in two different sports during the same Winter Olympics.
So, who is Ester Ledecka, many thought, and where did she come from? Well she came from the Czech Republic and was already a decorated snow boarder, when at age 20 in 2016 she made her debut on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in February 2016, finishing 24th in her first race. In 2017 she became the first athlete to compete in World Championships in both skiing with one seventh place finish in the downhill and snowboarding. She finished the season and her overall standing was in 49th place in alpine skiing and her goal was the 2018 Winter Olympics not just in snowboarding but alpine skiing as well. So, she went off to train and qualified in alpine skiing and snowboarding for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
The moral of the story is that anything is possible and can be archived with determination and hard work. No, not everyone will go to Olympic Trials or the Olympics ad bring home a medal to top it off but if you don’t try you will never know.