Pyeongchang (South Korea) (AFP) – Snowboard star Ester Ledecka’s “bonus” gold medal in last weekend’s Olympic super-G ruffled feathers in the world of alpine skiing, her ski coach said Tuesday.
The 22-year-old Czech stunned a strong field including defending champion Anna Veith and American star Lindsey Vonn to become one of the stories of the Pyeongchang Games.
Ledecka’s super-G triumph struck a blow for snowboard’s “it crowd” — long seen by alpine purists as the noisy upstarts on the mountain.
“She wasn’t relaxed on the morning she won,” revealed Ledecka’s coach Tomas Bank.
“She was actually crying due to some back pain. I thought everything was destroyed, but we somehow solved it.
Bank added: “I think some people in the world of Alpine skiing were upset when she won.”
Ledecka has resisted the temptation to have a crack at Wednesday’s downhill so she can focus on snowboarding’s parallel giant slalom later this week.
“There are absolutely zero issues between us,” said Ledecka’s snowboard coach Justin Reiter.
“If she’d come to me and said ‘I want to do the downhill’ I would have said ‘no worries’. It’s her career.”
Bank conceded that Ledecka stood a greater chance of winning another gold in her pet event than the downhill skiing.
“I push her sometimes but this year the main goal is the snowboard,” he said.
“The skiing gold was a bonus, but a big bonus. Justin and I are friends. She has a better chance to win another gold in snowboard than downhill.”
Ledecka’s two coaches believe that doubling up helps Ledecka become a better athlete in both disciplines.
“Snowboard gives her great balance and feeling,” said Bank. “And skiing helps her snowboarding because it’s faster — snowboard must feel like slow motion to her.
“Her opponents have never been as fast as she’s been.”
Bank’s main concern is that Ledecka is an adrenalin junkie who never knows when to stop.
“She always wants more runs. But Alpine skiing is dangerous so I have to limit her runs,” he said.