February 18, 2018 / 5:46 AM / a year ago

Ledecka's shock win boosts Czech team confidence

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - The Czech team are riding high and believe anything is possible after team mate Ester Ledecka stunned the skiing world to win the Olympic gold in super-G, Czech Alpine skier Filip Forejtek said on Sunday.

Feb 17, 2018; Pyeongchang, South Korea; Gold medal winner Ester Ledecka (CZE) reacts after competing in the alpine skiing Super-G event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Ledecka, a champion snowboarder who was given no chance of winning against the skiing’s elite ladies, laid down a blistering run on Saturday that took even Forejtek by surprise.

“She is just amazing. I don’t know what else to say,” the 20-year-old told reporters after his first giant slalom run at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre.

“I think the power is coming from her to the whole Czech team and we can try harder and do our best.”

Ledecka skipped Sunday’s training for the downhill competition and it remains unclear whether many of the same skiers she shocked in super-G will get their shot at revenge in Wednesday’s race.

Ledecka, who is the only athlete in Pyeongchang competing in both skiing and snowboarding, will be a favourite in snowboard parallel giant slalom on Saturday.

Forejtek described Ledecka as humble and was not surprised to hear that she was seen wearing her gold medal while eating KFC at Czech House after the race.

Ledecka’s laid-back approach comes from her father Janek, one of the country’s most popular musicians, who said he is more than happy to share the spotlight with his 22-year-old daughter.

“She’ll be the darling of Czech fans,” he said.

While parents of Olympic champions are often gifted athletes themselves, Janek said neither he nor Ester’s mother excelled at sports themselves.

“We are not pushy parents,” he said.

“It’s the other way. We’re trying to take her away from training, and from the slope, some days because she is able to die on the slopes.

“We have to hold her back. That’s the only problem we’ve ever had with Ester.”

Her inspiration to the Czech team extends to her proud father, who said he may now write a song about her.

Despite Ledecka’s stunning upset, Forejtek said there were limits to his optimism.

Asked if he could catch leading Austrian Marcel Hirscher in the giant slalom despite finishing in 36th after the first run, Forejtek demurred.

“Maybe,” he said. “But I don’t think so.”

Reporting by Rory Carroll; Additional reporting by Nick Mull

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