Ester Ledecka battled ‘internal strife’ in Olympic fairytale: Coach

Gold medalist Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic on the podium. (Reuters)
Updated 25 February 2018

Ester Ledecka battled ‘internal strife’ in Olympic fairytale: Coach

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea: Czech sensation Ester Ledecka overcame suffocating pressure and inner demons to complete a historic Olympic ski-snowboard double, her coach has revealed.
The 22-year-old dominated Saturday’s snowboard giant parallel slalom — a week after stunning the world of alpine skiing with victory in the super-G — establishing herself as the athlete of the Pyeongchang Games.
Ledecka’s parents and coaches had been concerned about the intense hype surrounding her bid to become the first woman to capture gold in different sports at the same Winter Games.
“The amount of pressure that was on her was incredible,” said snowboarding coach Justin Reiter.
“People are people and Ester has her own internal strife. We worked really closely with our team and her parents to manage it as best we can and help her.
“She was protected from the media all this time,” added the American. “While the super-G gold was amazing, of course it was unexpected — she came here with the goal to medal in snowboarding.
“If she chose to just absorb all the energy from the super-G medal and kind of check off the Olympic medal, we’d be having a different conversation today. But because of who Ester is and because of the way she functions, that’s not enough.”
Reiter paid tribute to Ledecka’s work ethic in balancing two sports, while admitting it is hard to pull the adrenalin junkie away from the slopes.
“The number one thing I wanted to do with Ester was to empower her to make choices so that she can become a true champion,” said Reiter.
“She displayed that this season by prioritising her health over her training. In the past she was always train, train, train, train, train and really didn’t rest enough.
“This year we managed everything as perfectly as can be and she’s going home with two gold medals in her pocket.”
Describing Ledecka as a “once-in-a-lifetime” athlete, Reiter insisted there would be no pressure on the snowboarder to increase the events she skis in as a result of her Olympic success.
“If she wants to ski more, I’m fine with that,” he said. “If she wants to snowboard more, I’m fine with that. This is Ester’s career.
“We’ve gotten into this idea of sports specialization at a young age, but sport is not intended to be a business investment.
“We’ve turned it into that and yes it’s about money, but ideally it should be about fun and that’s what makes Ester unique — no matter how hard she works, she loves the work.”


4 dead as rival fans fight before Honduran soccer game

Updated 2 min 13 sec ago

4 dead as rival fans fight before Honduran soccer game

  • The violence began when fans of the Olimpia team threw stones and other objects Saturday evening at a bus carrying Motagua players to the National Stadium

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras: A fourth victim has died from injuries sustained during a fight between fans of the rival Honduran soccer teams Motagua and Olimpia, a hospital spokeswoman said Sunday.
The violence began when fans of the Olimpia team threw stones and other objects Saturday evening at a bus carrying Motagua players to the National Stadium, breaking windows and injuring three players. Emilio Izaguirre, a former player for Scotland’s Celtic club, sustained a cut near his eye. Paraguayan Roberto Moreira and Argentine Jonathan Rougier were also injured by glass fragments.
Bus driver Marcos Castellanos said the vehicle was hit as he drove the Motagua players down a street in the capital of Tegucigalpa.
“We were leaving the hotel when about 250 people attacked the bus with bottles in the street,” said Castellanos, describing the attackers as “furious.”
The National League and police suspended the game, but a fight broke out between fans of the teams at and around the stadium. Fists flew and gunfire was heard before police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Hospital spokeswoman Juliette Chavarría said three spectators died Saturday, and a fourth died on Sunday. Officials identified the latest fatality as David Zepeda, 22, who was beaten to death. Three people are in stable condition, Chavarría said.
Police also had to chase rowdy fans out of the hospital, where some arrived to continue the tussle.
Police spokesman Jair Meza said one person with guns was arrested for allegedly participating in the fight.
The stadium will be closed until further notice. The National League did not set a new date for the game to be played.
“We regret these situations and I call on the fans of Olimpia and other teams in the National League to avoid carrying out these acts which damage soccer,” said Olimpia president Rafael Villeda.
Fans of Motagua and Olimpia have engaged in deadly clashes in the past.