Alpine skiing-Ledecka is pulled in two different directions ahead of Olympic defence

| Sun, 05 Dec 2021 21:52:06 GMT

By Steve Keating

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta, Dec 5 (Reuters) – When you are preparing to defend gold medals in two sports at the same Olympics you have little time to think of anything else says Ester Ledecka, who made history at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games by topping the podium in both snowboard’s parallel giant slalom and Alpine skiing’s super-G.

So focused is Ledecka on the task ahead that when asked about world events impacting the Feb. 4-20 Beijing Winter Olympics, including China’s treatment of former world number one doubles tennis player Peng Shuai, the Czech asked; “Sorry, who is Peng Shuai?”

Given that she is in midst of solving a logistical competition puzzle, Ledecka has little spare time to follow current events.

For the 26-year-old Ledecka the season is a constant tug-of-war between ‘Ester the skier’ and ‘Ester the snowboarder’.

“The most difficult part is the decisions,” Ledecka told Reuters in the finish area of the Lake Louise downhill. “For instance, now I go back to Europe and I have to decide if I go to St. Moritz or Cervinia for snowboard or Val d’Isere (for ski racing). I really want to do it all but unfortunately the FIS calendar does not see that someone could do both.”

Even as the Alpine World Cup’s North America swing was coming to an end at the weekend, Ledecka was still mulling over her plans.

Two super-Gs in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Dec. 11-12 were a possibility, as were a Dec. 17-18 World Cup snowboard event in Cervinia, Italy, or the clashing downhill and super-G that same weekend in the French resort of Val d’Isere.

Ledecka sharpened her Alpine skills in Lake Louise this week, finishing 12th and 22nd in the season-opening World Cup downhills on Friday and Saturday before coming home 13th in Sunday’s super-G.

Despite her dizzying schedule, Ledecka said she felt more in control heading into the Beijing Olympics having already had experience of juggling two completely different events.

She also believes she has been handed an advantage with none of the Alpine skiers having had a chance to ski on the Beijing Olympic layout.

“It’s good I have already had this experience once,” said Ledecka. “This is going to be my third Olympic Games so it is always good to know how it works because it is very different.

“I have been there on snowboard so I know what it looks like but on the ski side nobody knows. That is good because we are all on the same page.

“Usually all the other girls have much more experience on the downhill than I do and now they are on the same level like me so I will try to use it to my advantage.” (Reporting by Steve Keating in Lake Louise. Editing by Clare Fallon)

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