Ester Ledecká: Alpine icon from Prague's Old Town

She secured a place in Olympic skiing history at the age of only 22

Friends of Czech Olympic sensation Ester Ledecká say she lives in her own bubble. On Saturday morning she made Olympic history. In a brilliant race, she skied past her rivals in the women's Super G from one of the last starting positions. Using second hand skis she ousted the Austrian defending champion Anna Veith by a hundredth of a second from the gold medal.

Ledecká has long been a name in snowboarding circles and has already won two world championships and a World Cup in parallel races.The mere fact that she competed in the Olympic Super-G earned her the respect of the audience worldwide. When it was clear that Ledecká made a sensational gold run, there was no stopping the hype.

But Ledecká lives in her own world where she just likes to race down the slope. She is particularly fond of night races, with the track underneath and the stars above her, she told journalist Tomáš Poláček of Reportér magazine. He wrote a humorous a portrait called "Alien on the Snow.” Ledecká is generally not to open to journalists before competitions. She prefers to encapsulate herself in her own space. The approach obviously works for her, even if it frustrates journalists.

Versatile exceptional talent

Ledecká is an unorthodox athlete who comes from the trendy sport of snowboarding but quickly found alpine ski gold along the way. Her approach is self-assured irreverence paired with self-determination. She has to work just as hard as her colleagues and competitors and spends only two months a year in Prague’s Old Town, where she grew up.

Her passion for sports is no surprise, as it runs in the family. Her grandfather, Jan Klapač, was a seven-time ice hockey world champion and a double Olympic medalist. He was part of the ice hockey team that became an icon of protest against the Soviet occupation with their victory against the Soviet Union at the 1969 World Cup in Stockholm.

As a child, Ledecká already preferred to stay in her own sporty and creative world. Her mother, Zuzana, was a figure skater. Her father, singer and composer Janek Ledecký, has been well-known in the Czech music scene since the 1980s.

Together with her brother, Jonáš, an aspiring comic artist, she was home-schooled by her parents. The school only saw them from the inside when they took the required exams. Ledecká is currently studying marketing communications. She would rather have studied quantum physics, but that would not have been compatible with sports in terms of time, Janek Ledecký told daily Mladá fronta Dnes,

Ledecká has secured a place in the Olympic history at the age of only 22 because it was so unexpected. Experienced ski professionals and sports reporters at first couldn’t believe it, then broke into rapture. US broadcaster NBC had already declared another skier the winner and cut away to cover a different sport by the time Ledecká made her late run, as nobody thought one of the bottom-ranked skiers had a chance.

Ledecká began skiing at the age of 4 and by 5 was on the snowboard. She always wanted to compete in both disciplines, Ledecká told the New York Times.

She mainly focused on snowboarding because the competition wasn’t as demanding. Skiing is just as much a part of her self-image as an athlete: she is a snowboarding skier or a skiing snowboarder. Or both.

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Ester Ledecká

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