It has been almost a year since Ester Ledecka became the first athlete, in 90 years, to win gold as a skier and snowboarder at the same Winter Olympics.
If her victory in the super-G alpine event was somewhat unexpected – she had been ranked 49th in the world before the Games – the reaction to her unprecedented feat was an even bigger shock for the Czech star .
A month after her two historic victories, she received a congratulatory message from Canadian singer Bryan Adams.
"I've always adored Bryan Adams," laughs Ledecka while addressing CNN. "Four years ago, I was in Brno for his concert and my friend took me backstage, I shook his hand and he wrote on my guitar" Bryan Adams & love # 39 ;.
"Someone had the idea of being able to make a video with me and showed it at a press conference at the end of the season – it was the best."
The character of Ledecka is naturally contagious; when she laughs, it's hard not to follow. Yet, aside from her sense of humor, humility has made the 23-year-old girl a star in her home country.
"It was crazy," she remembers the reunion that awaited her in Prague. "The whole place in the old town was full of people, because I'm shy, I was standing at the back of the stage.
"They were laughing and applauding, it was so positive and so pleasant, and it was very cold that day, it was minus 20 degrees in Prague and I was so happy that someone came." "
A ski mask
A high turnout was undoubtedly doubtful for an athlete who had never even won a medal in a world-class international ski event before arriving in Pyeongchang. Austrian Anna Veith, who had won gold in Sochi in 2014, was clearly favorite to repeat this feat, but Ledecka failed to outweigh it by 0.01 seconds.
Ledecka's real surprise would lend itself to one of the most memorable press conferences. She insisted on keeping her ski goggles, blaming her shock and lack of makeup.
The circumstances of his first victory made his second triumph in the giant giant slalom all the more impressive.
"I wanted to forget the first medal," Ledecka explains about the state of mind required to move from one to the other.
"I had more hope in snowboarding and it was hard for me as a lot of people were reminding me and congratulating me every time I went on the snowboard track."
After the Russian Anfisa Reztsova, gold medalist in biathlon and cross-country skiing, Ledecka is only the second woman to win gold in two different disciplines – the first at the same Games.
& # 39; I will do it & # 39;
While her coaches may have encouraged the Czech to focus on one discipline, this has never been in Ledecka's mind, whose family history is rooted in competitive sport. His grandfather, 77, a two-time Olympic ice hockey medalist, is still his fitness coach.
"A lot of coaches would say you can not do both," she explains. "That you can never do both at a higher level or in World Cup – you have to choose." And I was like: "No – no one has ever done it before, so how whether it is possible or not, do it, I will work for it.It is possible and I have proven them wrong because it is possible. "
If anything, she insists, working in one discipline has improved the other. She compares the prospect of having to choose a single sport to side with her parents during a family divorce.
Ledecka says that everyone has transferable qualities while skiing and snowboarding are considered almost like his own tribes on the mountain.
"I think my snowboard helps me get closer to the slope," says Ledecka. "And also, in snowboarding, you only have one chance to do it well – if you do not do it right, you fall on your face.
"Skiing helps me to think about my speed.The discipline is very fast, so when I go snowboarding, it's like a slow motion.It's very useful for me because I do not have a lot of snow." I'm not scared for the moment. "
Despite her success, however, Ledecka remains well aware of the challenges ahead as she seeks to replicate the dominant strengths of her sport. The nature of the sport is such that the speed of its meteoric rise will be worth nothing if it is unable to stay at the top.
It stars Marcel Hirscher, Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn, three of whom have become long-term encounters at the top of their respective disciplines.
"I would like to become the person who is always at the top," she says.
"There are some people, but not many, who are able to run at the top all the time. [level] one day, but the way is still long before me. "