Imagine the amount of work and dedication that is required to become an Olympic champion. The hours put in to get to the very top of your sport. Combined with the timing to be at your peak when the event comes round once every four years.
Now imagine doing it all to become Olympic champion in two different sport.
Because four years ago that is exactly what Ester Ledecka did and on Friday morning she will bid to do so once again.
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Having wrapped up a dominant gold medal in the snowboarding parallel giant slalom already, Czech star Ledecka will now go for gold in the women’s super-G and therefore aim to complete the most unlikely of double acts - for the second time.

Ester Ledecká

Image credit: Getty Images

Skiing and snowboarding may look similar but as anyone who has ever tried both while on holiday can attest to, they are not at all. It is a difficult enough thing to do during a weekend break, let alone as your career. Ledecka has spoken in the past about how even after doing it for so long it can be tricky for her switching between the two. Normally she tends to focus on one at a time rather than trying to mix and match, she has said that sometimes it can take multiple days for her body to adjust and her and her team has had to develop specific exercises to help the process.
After sealing snowboard gold on Tuesday Ledecka will now turn her focus to the super-G, an event she actually now has a World Cup win after a triumph in December 2020. Since Pyeongchang four years ago she has six Alpine skiing World Cup podiums (one victory in the downhill to go along with the super-G) after having none prior to 2018, a clear sign of her development as a skier.
Yet this is still far from a sure thing. In her three super-G races this season Ledecka has managed finishes of 13th, 9th and 8th. Contrastingly the Italian duo of Federica Brignone and Irene Curtoni have looked imperious and they will be firm favourites over Ledecka. She will have the Italian support though, her close friendship with Sofia Goggia has her looked upon in Italy as an almost honorary citizen.
And imagine what happens if she actually does it…
Then we have to start talking about her as one of the greatest athletes we’ve ever seen. This author has long declared that she is one of the most interesting and unique, if not the most. Her family in of itself is fascinating with a rockstar father, comic book artist brother (who she credits for inspiring her to take up snowboarding), former figure skater mother and double Olympic medallist in ice hockey grandfather. Throw in Ledecka and you possibly have the most interesting dinner guests you could possibly want.
In Ledecka’s own words “it’s like, a weird mishmash, but it really works

Ester Ledecka has retained her Olympic snowboard parallel giant slalom title

Image credit: Eurosport

“Because every one of us has our dreams
“And we support each other and it works because we love what we do.”
Ledecka, who is open about how uncomfortable she is with her own stardom and doing media duties, was asked in the traditional pre-season interview session with her sponsor Atomic about what would happen if she had to pick between skiing and snowboarding. The answer was pretty telling.
“If I had to choose being on board or skis?” Ledecka repeated, almost in disbelief.
Then I would quit everything!
“Like, it doesn’t make sense [to only do one].”
In an era where there is so much expectation within society to conform and do what everyone else does it’s refreshing to watch someone like Ledecka play to her own beat, go her own way.
The greatest thing about her is that if she wins tomorrow, and cements her place in history as one of the most special competitors we’ve ever seen, nothing will change. She will be the same, grounded Ester that she always is. That is a remarkable skill in of itself and speaks to her mentality and wisdom.
A couple of years ago I interviewed Ledecka and asked her what comes after impossible.
Her response was eye-opening
“To be faster on skis and snowboard and enjoy life.”
Sometimes it really is that simple. Don’t miss Ledecka in action, you might find yourself watching something you’ll tell your grandkids about.
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