Ester Ledecka made history last night in PyeongChang when she took home Olympic gold in women's snowboarding parallel giant slalom. Why was this such a momentous occasion? Earlier this week, she stood at the top of a different podium, winning gold in women's ski super-G, making her the first woman in Olympic history to win gold in two different sports in a single Winter Games.
The 22-year-old from the Czech Republic first made headlines last week when she, a snowboarder, competed in the women's ski super-G event on a pair of skis she borrowed from American ski phenom Mikaela Shiffrin. After only competing in 19 World Cup ski races in her career, Ledecka took home the gold medal, beating out defending Olympic champion Austrian Anna Veith by the slimmest of margins—.01 seconds—as well as Lindsey Vonn, who tied for 6th in the event, 38-hundreths of a second behind Ledecka.
Ledecka, who grew up in Prague, learned to ski at the age of 2. When she tried snowboarding three years later, Ledecka decided she would just do both, much to the dismay of her coaches.
And do both she did. After riding the high of an unexpected win in super-G, Ledecka went into parallel giant slalom finals with a qualification time of 43.42 seconds, fast enough to beat nearly a quarter of the men's field on the same course.
After defeating German Selina Joerg in the gold medal round by 0.46 seconds, Ledecka had clinched a historic moment. "I was dreaming about this moment since I was a little child," said Ledecka in an interview with the New York Times. "A lot of people were telling me that it is not possible to do both sports and to be on a high level in both sports and today I proved it is possible," she said.
Ledecka entered the press conference after her win in parallel giant slalom in the same fashion as her win post super-G, still wearing her goggles. Her reasoning: she didn't have time to put on makeup.