One might assume that Ester Ledecká would just kick back and bask in the glory after her seemingly unfathomable Olympic feat, a near miracle on snow that left anyone who has ever strapped on a pair of skis or a snowboard in utter disbelief.
Not a snowball's chance in the Czech Republic.
Ledecká pulled off one of history’s biggest upsets in Olympic skiing, speeding to a super-G gold medal from the back of the pack and as an encore, staved off a mountain of pressure to win a second gold in the snowboard parallel giant slalom. It was an unprecedented Winter Olympic double at the PyeongChang Games last February.
The 23-year-old Czech "Snow Sports Queen" has made her intentions clear that she will once again juggle ski racing and snowboarding this winter.
Ledecká finished 10th in just her 10th World Cup super-G start in Lake Louise, Alberta, last Sunday. Aiming to build upon the respectable result, the snowboard star will once again wax up her Atomic skis and race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Saturday.
"For me it is a little bit complicated because I also do snowboarding, so I will never ever have the same amount of training as the others, but I try to be prepared," Ledecká says.
"It is a pity that winter is not longer, or the FIS schedule is not planned for me to be able to do both sports,” she adds. “I'll have to solve every week which race I take part in."
Ledecká will swiftly swap skis in Switzerland to snowboard in Italy for two parallel giant slalom World Cups in Carezza (December 13) and Cortina d'Ampezzo (December 14-15).
"It will be hard work switching to snowboarding, but I hope we'll be able to handle everything the way we've planned," she says.
Ledecká's coaches inform that there is a tentative schedule in place considering multiple conflicting World Cup race dates, including world championships, which both fall in February. It seems anyone's best guess as to which races the enigmatic Bohemian skier/snowboarder chooses.
In snowboard parallel races, Ledecká has been dominant. The Czech is the three-time defending World Cup champion, amassing 15 victories over five seasons. In ski racing, despite her shocking Olympic triumph, she is still trying to make her mark.
"I am thinking how many downhills have I raced…10 or 11? In super-G…10? It is nothing. I have to work harder,” she says. “There are still things I can improve upon, not only in skiing, but in snowboarding too.”
Ledecka's Steamboat Springs-based snowboard coach Justin Reiter says the young athlete is extremely dedicated and a dream to work with.
"Ester has an incredible amount of drive and sometimes it's hard to get her to rest," says Reiter, a former U.S. snowboard racer and world championship silver medalist.
"She is about as low maintenance an athlete as one can imagine,” Reiter says. “This is great because it allows us to focus on training and preparation rather than red carpets and bougie hotels."
Two-time defending overall World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin says the Czech ski racer has impeccable technique, despite limited ski racing experience.
"She's an incredible athlete—obviously she has to be to compete in both sports so well," Shiffrin says. "I think she has a really natural feeling for speed and really great technique. Watching her ski, I wonder what everyone else is doing."
Reiter says that despite Olympic stardom, loads of new opportunities and obligations, and frequent media requests, Ester has remained cool.
"Ester is in a special, somewhat vulnerable place right now and lot of people are pulling and pressuring her," Reiter says. "The beautiful part about Ester is she doesn't give a shit. She just wants to race."
Despite her laser focus and sheer determination, Ledecka's quirky ways and unpredictability keep her coaches, team, fans and media laughing.
In PyeongChang, Ledecka was asked about the often frosty relationship between skiers and snowboarders. She summed it up succinctly, while comically feigning the motions of the two disciplines.
"When I'm with snowboarders on one side, I say ‘Damn skiers!’ And when I'm with skiers, I say, ‘Damn snowboarders!'” she says, eliciting a big laugh from the crowded room of Olympic journalists.
It appears that the free-spirited Czech will continue to serve as the world's ambassador fostering peace between participants of the contrasting mountain pastimes. But what is her ultimate motivation in trading board for skis and skis for board at the highest competitive level, and so on and so on?
"As long as I'm having fun and doing it for myself, I think I'm in a good way," Ledecka says. "Sometimes, I want to stay in bed (in the morning), but as long as I'm on the hill, I feel like I'm at home."