PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Kenya’s Sabrina Simader said on Saturday she would be inspired to surprise a few people herself after watching Czech skier Ester Ledecka win one of the most astonishing Winter Olympic races of all time.
Simader, the first speed skier to race for Kenya and only its second Winter Olympic athlete, finished 38th out of 44 in the women’s super-G, in which Ledecka - better known as a snowboarder - came from nowhere to beat defending champion Anna Veith of Austria by a hundredth of a second.
“It was so cool and so emotional, also for me, because I mean - a Czech girl wins the Olympics, and nobody expected that before,” Simader told reporters. “I hope I can also surprise some other people in the next race.”
That won’t be at the Olympics, however, as the teenager has finished her programme in Pyeongchang - rebounding in the super-G from the disappointment of failing to complete the second run of the giant slalom on Thursday.
It was the biggest milestone yet for the young woman, born in Kenya and raised in Austria, who hated skiing when she first tried it out as a little girl.
“I learnt it at three years (old) from my stepfather in Austria. He has his own ski lift, a small one, so I learnt it there and I fell in love - not at the beginning, but afterwards.”
She remembered her first reaction: “Oh no, it’s too cold and I never saw snow and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, no.’”
Sixteen years on, she is still living in Austria, training with the Austrian team and hoping she can get more funding to pursue her ambitions in the sport.
“I’m 19 years old, so I’m at the beginning and I want to get faster and better ... but we need also the financial support to get a good professional team,” she said.
Backed by her mother Sarah, who watched her in Pyeongchang, and her coach Christian Reif, she believes she can reach the top by herself, even in the absence of fellow skiers from Kenya.
“I can do it alone, with a professional team I can do it.”
Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty