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.”


Kuzma’s 3-pointer lifts Lakers past Nuggets

Updated 12 August 2020

Kuzma’s 3-pointer lifts Lakers past Nuggets

  • The Lakers had clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference before their losing streak started

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.: Kyle Kuzma hit a 3-pointer with .4 seconds left and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 124-121 Monday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

LeBron James threw an inbounds pass to Anthony Davis, who flipped it to Kuzma on the right wing for the game-winner as the clock ran down.

The Lakers, outplayed down the stretch by Denver’s bench, got 29 points and 12 assists from James, who hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Anthony Davis had 27 points and Kuzma 25.

P.J. Dozier had a chance to put the Nuggets up by one with 4.4 seconds left but missed the second of two free throws. Kuzma rebounded and the Lakers called timeout to set up the winning play.

Dozier had been fouled by Kuzma while driving the lane after a miss by James.

James had given the Lakers a 121-119 lead by converting a 3-point play with 45.7 seconds to go. Monte Morris made one of two free throws for the Nuggets.

The Lakers had clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference before their losing streak started. They are 3-4 in the bubble with one game to go.

Dozier scored 18 and Michael Porter Jr. had 15 for the Nuggets, who are currently the No. 3 seed in the West.

The Lakers took an 87-80 lead late in the third quarter after two buckets by Kuzma and two free throws by Davis. But the Nuggets went on an 8-1 run to finish the quarter in an 88-88 tie. Mason Plumlee made a jumper and Bol Bol and Morris each made a 3-pointer

Davis grabbed the rebound of Kuzma’s miss for a slam dunk at the halftime buzzer that gave the Lakers a 64-59 halftime lead. 

Davis also made a similar play off miss by Kuzma in the last minute of the first quarter.