PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Minor medalists Anna Veith and Tina Weirather admitted to being stunned to lose out to Czech Ester Ledecka in the women’s Alpine skiing super-G on Saturday but both had their own reasons for being delighted to finish on the Olympic podium.
Austrian Veith looked set to win unprecedented back-to-back gold medals until snowboarder Ledecka, in bib 26, stormed down the course to knock her off the top of the podium by one hundredth of a second.
“First I thought it’s gold for sure because after 20 (skiers), we’ve never had it this season that someone would win (from that position),” she said.
“For me it was a big surprise that she could do this. Afterwards, though, I thought that because she is not so much at the World Cup because she also does snowboard, we didn’t know how strong she is.
“I think she had a pretty good run so she deserved it.”
Veith won the super-G and a giant slalom silver in Sochi under her maiden name Fenninger, before her marriage to snowboarder Manuel Veith.
She missed the best part of two seasons after suffering a serious knee injury in 2015 and, although she was not in pain while she skied on Saturday, said she still had to manage the workload on the joint.
“Sometimes after skiing, after training I have a reaction, when I feel that it is too much for me, I take a break,” she said.
“Silver is like gold to me,” she added. “Because after two years injured, every medal is unbelievable.”
Weirather said that although Ledecka’s triumph was “amazing”, she had previously thought that the versatile Czech might one day present a challenge in Alpine skiing.
“The first time I saw Ester skiing was in Chile and I thought, ‘Wow, who is this?’,” she said. “I talked to her and realized she is a really good snowboarder and windsurfer.
“She is multi-talented. I followed her, and thought it was a matter of time before she’d end up further in the front.”
Weirather’s bronze was her first Olympic medal and added to a family haul of two golds, two silvers and two bronzes accumulated by her mother Hanni Wenzel and uncle Andreas Wenzel.
Her family’s contribution now constitutes seven of the 10 Olympic medals won by skiers from Liechtenstein.
“I wasn’t alive when they won their medals (but) right now I just feel really thankful, I know how much work has been behind it,” she said.
“I am really proud that my mum and my uncle were able to do that too. Now it’s me, so that’s special.”
Editing by Clare Fallon