Vonn ties for 6th, Ledecka wins super-G
JEONGSEON, South Korea — After eight years away from the Olympic stage, Lindsey Vonn returned Saturday, Feb. 17, but a big mistake near the bottom of the course cost her a shot at a medal in the super-G at Jeongseon Alpine Centre.
Ester Ledecka, of the Czech Republic, was the shocking Olympic super-G winner in Jeongseon, South Korea. A snowboarder by trade — with 14 World Cup wins on that tour and a seventh-place finish at a Lake Louise, Alberta, downhill in December as her best World Cup alpine result — stunned everyone involved winning in 1 minute, 21.11 seconds.
Anna Veith, of Austria, had been hoping to repeat as Olympic super-G champion. Veith, in fact, had started to celebrate when Ledecka, running No. 26, ended up clipping her by 11-hundredths of a second.
Nee Fenninger, Veith settled for silver in 1 minute, 21.12 seconds. Lichtenstein’s Tina Weirather skied to bronze, 1-tenth behind Veith and 1-hundredth of a second ahead of Switzerland’s Lara Gut.
Lindsey Vonn, running first, appeared to have a good run going, only to be stymied by a wide turn late in her run. Vonn finished tied for sixth with Italy’s Federica Brignone with a time of 1:21.49.
The 33-year-old Vail resident dedicated the race to her late grandfather. Don Kildow passed away in November at age 88. He taught Vonn’s father, Alan Kildow, how to ski, igniting a passion that was passed down to Vonn.
“After 8 years of waiting I finally get a chance to compete in the Olympics again,” she posted on Instagram before the race. “This time I have a more important mission; win for my late Grandpa. He will be watching from the best seat in the house, hopefully looking out for me and guiding me down the mountain. I will leave it all out on the hill tomorrow and have no regrets.”
Vonn last competed in the Olympics eight years ago, when she won a gold in the downhill and bronze in super-G at the Vancouver Games.
Vonn will get another shot in Pyeongchang on Wednesday, Feb. 21, (Tuesday, Feb. 20, in Colorado) with the downhill.
In the meantime, the question on everyone’s lips is, “Who the heck is Ester Ledecka?”
She took up skiing at 4, but switched over to snowboarding. She made her snowboarding World Cup debut during the 2012-13 season and made the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, finishing six in the parallel slalom and seventh in the parallel giant slalom.
She started the alpine World Cup in February 2016. In 2017, she became the first athlete to compete in both the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and the Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain.
And, yes, Ledecka will be going for gold on the snowboarding side of things next week.
Veith is no stranger to local race fans as she won both super-G and giant slalom during the 2015 Worlds at Beaver Creek. Her life after Worlds changed dramatically with a training injury (ACL, meniscus and patella tendon).
She missed the entire 2015-16 season and most of 2016-17. Veith returned to the World Cup winner’s circle for the first time since those injuries in a super-G on Dec. 17, 2017 in Val d’Isere, France.
Weirather’s family is no stranger to skiing glory. Her mother, Hanni Wenzel, won two World Cup championships in 1978 and 1980, and captured two gold medals at the Lake Placid, New York, Olympics in giant slalom and slalom. Her father, Harti, won downhill gold in the 1982 Worlds in Schladming, Austria.
For Weirather, Friday was sweet Olympic redemption. She missed the two previous Olympics with injuries at Cortina, Italy, in January 2010, and a training mishap before the 2014 Olympics in Sochi Russia.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.