By Jack Tarrant
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – From the moment Ester Ledecka stunned the Alpine skiing world by winning gold in the super-G last week, the focus has turned to Saturday’s snowboarding parallel grand slalom (PGS) as the 22-year-old stands on the brink of history.
If the Czech wins gold in the PGS, she will become just the fifth athlete to claim gold in two sports at a Winter Olympics.
Ledecka came into the Olympics focused on the snowboarding event, in which she is the current world champion, with the super-G regarded merely as a sideshow.
She only made her Alpine skiing World Cup debut in February 2016, finishing 24th at the Kandahar downhill.
However, after stunning the likes of American Lindsey Vonn and Austria’s Anna Veith to win the super-G, the Czech has a chance to create history and become the “Queen of the Games” at Pyeongchang.
Unlike the previous athletes to achieve this milestone — all four of whom competed in Nordic events — Ledecka is aiming to win gold in two completely unrelated events.
In an era of unprecedented sports specialization, Ledecka’s achievement would be truly unique.
It could also be seen as an indicator that the tide could be turning away from Alpine skiing being regarded the blue riband sport of the Winter Olympics.
With Ledecka, being primarily a snowboarder, able to win one of the premiere events of the Games and then follow it up with gold in another discipline, it raises questions about the superiority of Alpine skiing.
As Ledecka rides in Saturday’s snowboard PGS the eyes of the world will be on her as she looks to close out Pyeongchang with a gold medal that could change the face of the Winter Olympics for years to come.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by John O’Brien)