Behind pretty much every great athlete is a strong support network. Be that family, partner, friends, coaches or a mixture of all four, most great sportspeople need the right group around them to help them achieve their goals.
And Ester Ledecka is no different.
The Czech skier-snowboarder, who continues to mystify with the way she is able to compete on two completely different pieces of equipment, spoke about the way her family supports her during the virtual Atomic media day. And it’s a pretty fascinating and eclectic group of individuals.
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Ester Ledecka (Credit Atomic)

Image credit: Eurosport

There’s her father, Janek, who is a certified rockstar in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia, her mother Zuzana, is a former figure skater. Her grandfather, Jan Klapac, won two Olympic medals representing Czechoslovakia at Ice Hockey as well as winning World Championship gold in Prague in 1972. Her brother Jonas, who she credits with getting her into skiing and snowboarding to begin with, is a well known comic book artist.
“So with my family, it's quite easy,” Ledecka says when she is asked about all the different types of people in the familial set-up.
“We were always supporting each other. And even though part of the family is more artists with my father and my brother, on the other hand, my grandpa is the famous hockey player.
And so it's like, a weird mishmash, but it really works.
“Because every one of us has our dreams. And we support each other and, and it works because we love what we do.”
Ledecka’s dream is to be the best she can be, on both skis and snowboards. In a sport full of incredible athletes with remarkable stories she stands alone. Her 2018 exploits in Pyeongchang are the stuff of legends by now, but she is becoming more and more of a consistent threat in both disciplines, which is absolutely astonishing. The apex came in a little spell in December last year where on the 12th she took gold in Parallel Giant Slalom in Snowboarding at Cortina, then eight days later she won the Super-G in the skiing at Val d’Isere. It really cannot be overstated just how unique it is what she’s doing.

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But would happen if she had to choose one or the other?
“If I had to choose being on board or skis?” says Ledecka almost incredulously.
Then I would quit everything!
“Like doesn't make sense [to only do one]. No, I don't know. It's a difficult question. I get it so often, I still don't know the answer, I should, you know, find out the answer, because everyone's asking it all the time. But I don't know.”
During the interview Ledecka explains that she tends to do her training in blocks, rather than trying to do some skiing and some snowboarding on the same day.
“Usually I have blocks because it's a little bit easier to learn for a bit on skis for example then if I skip from one to another every day.

Ester Ledecka (Credit Atomic)

Image credit: Eurosport

“Then it would be more difficult for me to always do switch myself and everything like this so I do week blocks, two week blocks maximum.
“I also don't want to do the blocks too long so I don't forget too much on each of the sport so I need to balance this but I think me and my team, my coaches [manage It].
“I have a great team so that that's helping me to get through it and to make a great schedule which works for now.”
Ledecka, who said that this year in an Olympic season it will be nice not to have to pick and choose events due to travel conflicts, struggled with a back injury at times last season and it had an impact on her competing.
However she consulted with one of her sponsors, Red Bull, during the off-season and the team there came up with a program that would help her to strengthen her back, as well as manage it in-season. Ledecka added she feels good and has had a good pre-season.

Mikaela Shiffrin, Ester Ledecka and Sofia Goggia (Credit Atomic)

Image credit: Eurosport

She’s sitting next to friend Sofia Goggia during the interview, who is asked about her own fearlessness. Whilst Goggia gives a great answer on fear and managing it the Italian does eventually admit she is terrified of snakes, so the question turns to Ledecka.
“I know I scare a lot of things like doing interviews and like these cameras over there these people strangers.”
Whilst Ledecka can be uncomfortable at times with her stardom, and the attention that brings with it, she looks very happy around Goggia, a more naturally more extroverted individual. Their genuine friendship, is a warm reminder of the best part of sport, two people from different countries with very different backgrounds brought together by the love of one thing.
Although as Goggia said they share the fact that neither parent had any interest in skiing before they took it up. Goggia’s father is an engineer and her mother is now a CEO and has a background in communications.

Ester Ledecka Sofia Goggia (Credit Atomic)

Image credit: Eurosport

And when Ledecka is asked about how she is able to stay grounded she tells a heartwarming story about an interaction with the Italian media.
“Well, actually, it was quite funny because I was doing interview for Italian press.
“And they said that we two [gesturing to Goggia], they take us like sisters.
“Because everyone in Italy, cheers for you, you know. But if they need to choose someone else from other countries, it's me, so I'm so happy.
“Because that was the biggest compliment I could get, you know”
Ledecka remains two things. Grounded, and absolute must-see TV. Don't ever miss this remarkable athlete in action this season.
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