12/17 10:26 CST Skier-snowboarder Ledecka finding more success after golds
Skier-snowboarder Ledecka finding more success after golds
By ANDREW DAMPF
AP Sports Writer
SELVA DI VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) --- The skier-snowboarder who stunned just
about everyone by winning the Olympic super-G in February is finding her groove
Ester Ledecka led the second training session for a World Cup downhill by a
comfortable margin Monday --- two days after winning a parallel giant slalom
"My first turns on skis were this morning --- after two weeks --- because I was
just snowboarding," Ledecka told The Associated Press.
Actually, it has been nine days since Ledecka competed on skis, finishing 29th
in a super-G in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Dec. 8. But considering all that
she's done since then, it's no wonder that it feels like two weeks.
Ledecka finished second in a snowboard race in Carezza, Italy, on Thursday and
then won a night race in nearby Cortina d'Ampezzo on Saturday --- meaning she
was on skis in Val Gardena about 36 hours after her latest boarding victory.
"It was kind of crazy to come here, because it's a new hill for everyone," said
Ledecka, who was 14th in the opening training session. "So I was a little
insecure in the morning with my ski turns but I'm happy that I was able to feel
good on my skis and have some good runs."
Ledecka finished 0.40 seconds ahead of Selva native Nicol Delago and 0.43 ahead
of Nicole Schmidhofer, the Austrian who won this season's opening two downhills.
"So far so good. But it's still just a training," Ledecka said. "All the girls
are practicing and looking for the good lines."
At the Pyeongchang Olympics, Ledecka followed her super-G victory in Alpine
skiing by winning the parallel GS in snowboarding --- becoming the first
athlete to win two golds at the same Winter Games using two different types of
In the Olympic super-G, Ledecka beat Anna Veith by 0.01 seconds --- after U.S.
broadcaster NBC had already declared Veith the gold medalist and switched its
viewers to figure skating.
While the 23-year-old Czech athlete still lacks experience in skiing, this
week's races in Val Gardena on a slope that the women have not raced on before
evens the playing field for her.
"This is an advantage for me," she acknowledged. "We'll see how I can play with
Ledecka's chances are also boosted by the fact that downhill standouts Lindsey
Vonn and Sofia Goggia are currently out injured and overall World Cup leader
Mikaela Shiffrin is sitting out to rest.
"There's a long way in front of me in skiing still," Ledecka said. "I hope I'll
improve myself a little bit this year."
Ledecka's Olympic success has made her one of the most popular athletes in the
Czech Republic --- rivaling even the country's hockey stars. Barbie recently
introduced a Ledecka doll in its "Role Models" series --- replete with
miniature equipment for both snowboarding and skiing .
"The Barbie doll was a nice surprise and I hope they will make some more,
because I (got) a lot of messages from my fans that they want to buy it,"
Ledecka said. "On one side (the increased attention) is good, on the other side
you kind of a little bit lost the privacy but I learned to work with it and I'm
Ledecka broke a bone in her left hand during snowboard training at Copper
Mountain in Colorado last month and was left with a big scar on the top of her
hand from surgery.
"I was snowboarding and I put my hand on the ground and I hit the gate. I had
to stop for one week," Ledecka said. "The good thing for me was that when I
came back I was snowboarding, so I didn't have to hold the pole."
Ledecka plans to keep switching back and forth between skiing and snowboarding
this season but she could run into a dilemma with the parallel GS at the world
snowboard championships scheduled for Utah on Feb. 4 --- the same day that the
Alpine skiing worlds open in Are, Sweden.
Ledecka is the defending world champion in snowboarding.
"Last year we were lucky, with the weather and everything so the whole plan
fit," said Tomas Bank, Ledecka's coach. "This year I recognize it is not that
AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in St. Moritz, Switzerland, contributed to this
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