PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Ester Ledecka won her shock super-G Olympic gold medal on skis previously owned by American double World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin, the Czech skier and snowboarder’s coach confirmed late on Saturday.
Moments after 22-year-old’s unlikely triumph, the origin of her skis remained unclear with Ledecka telling a post-race news conference: “I hope these are mine.”
Speaking to Reuters Television, her coach Tomas Bank said they had been using Shiffrin’s old skis for about 18 months and they were the fastest pair in testing before Saturday’s race.
“We take some new skis and also some used skis and yes, it was Mikaela Shiffrin’s skis,” he said of the equipment that formerly belonged to the American slalom specialist, who has also won two Olympic gold medals.
“Our serviceman waxed them a lot of times. We skied them and tested them and... they were fastest so we used them,” Bank said at Czech House, where fans were celebrating the country’s first ever Alpine skiing gold medal.
Ledecka, meanwhile, opted for a quiet night to prepare for her snowboard event next week, a discipline she was better known for prior to Saturday, having become the first Czech to win the parallel giant slalom World Cup in the 2015-16 season.
Few expected her snowboarding success to translate to the dramatically different sport of Alpine skiing, where Ledecka entered the super-G ranked 43rd in the World Cup standings.
“Yesterday she was a better snowboarder, but today, maybe she is a better skier,” Bank added.
Editing by Darren Schuettler/John O'Brien