Olympics 2018: Czech skier steals gold in women's super-G -- on Mikaela Shiffrin's skis
Ester Ledecka's gold medal-winning race is absolutely the most shocking moment of the Olympics so far
It's not hyperbolic to say that what transpired in the women's super-G competition on Friday night (U.S. time) in South Korea will go down as the most ridiculous, shocking, unthinkable upset that these Winter Games will see. And it could be decades before something so stunning happens in an Olympic ski race again.
Just look at the face of the woman who won gold for the proof. World, meet Ester Ledecka.
Ledecka, skiing from the 26th position, crossed the finish line in 1 minutes, 21.11 seconds, beating out Austrian Anna Veith by 0.01 seconds. To understand the unfathomable turn of events here, you must understand that World Cup super-G races are almost always won by racers who are in the group of the first 15-20 down the mountain. In super-G, the best go first. Anyone beyond that top group usually doesn't stand a chance at getting to the podium.
And so on Friday night, after 19 racers had completed their runs, NBC broadcast on live TV that Austria's Veith had won back-to-back golds in super-G. It seemed a safe call considering the history of the event, what with Veith having won gold in super-G at Sochi in 2014.
American Lindsey Vonn,, was even interviewed on television under the casual presumption that she finished tied for fifth.
Then came Ester Ledecka, a stealth compeitor in the snow, an unknown true dual-threat at this Olympiad. Ledecka's upset from the 26th position (meaning she was the 26th person down the course) is an all-time Olympic story, especially because Ledecka has done this amidst becoming the first person to ever compete in the Olympics in snowboarding and ski events. The 22-year-old from the Czech Republic was in the super-G, but almost as an afterthought. Her dominant sport is snowboarding. She's been a world champion on the board -- and she'd only finished in the top 10 in world skiing competition once.
But on Saturday, she completed the super-G run of her life and ripped the gold from Veith -- and perhaps more devastatingly knocked Switzerland's Lara Gut from the podium; Gut was 0.01 seconds behind Liechtenstein's Tina Weirather, who was dropped from second to third because of Ledecka's run.
The next twist, and it's a cool one: Ledecka wasn't even riding her own skis. She borrowed American Mikaela Shiffrin's for the race. Within minutes of Ledecka's win, Shiffrin tweeted.
Which makes you wonder: Maybe Shiffrin shouldn't have taken a rest day and skipped the super-G after all. Ledecka now finds herself in the unexpected and unprecedented position of having to match her ski performance in snowboarding. She will race in parallel giant slalom next Saturday. And for that race, she will not need to borrow anyone's gear.
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