(ATR) Czech snowboard world champion Ester Ledecka – who pulled off arguably the greatest upset in Olympic alpine skiing history – remains the talk of the Olympic world.
The 22-year-old, surprise super-G gold medalist’s reaction in the finish area was priceless. Ledecka stood in disbelief believing there had to be a mistake with the timing. The finish area cameraman told her she was the winner to which she softly replied "No." Finally, it all sunk in.
International Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Adams noted that president Thomas Bach witnessed the dramatic finish at the Jeongseon Alpine Center. Adams said that Bach was absolutely amazed, just like everyone else.
"This is an incredible story and we’re looking forward to the parallel giant slalom," Adams said, referring to her signature snowboard event slated for next Saturday.
"I guess she is already Queen of the Games and especially if she wins that as well."
Ledecka had never finished higher than 19th in a World Cup super-G previously, however she will be the favorite in the upcoming snowboard race. She is also considering running in Wednesday’s downhill.
IOC Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi said Ledecka’s shining moment is what the Olympic Games should be all about.
"It’s immense – these are the kind of stories that we need in the Games," Dubi told reporters at the Sunday daily briefing. "In the end it’s not about the buses or Wifi.
"It’s about these emotions and when it all comes together this makes is a perfect day, and it was a perfect race days with an amazing winner."
Reaction to NBC Missing Ledecka’s Victory
The Twitter world has been lighting up with countless American TV viewers infuriated about NBC cutting away from the ladies super-G after 19 racers. Announcer Dan Hicks anointed then current leader Anna Vieth of Austria as the winner, despite Ledecka and 26 skiers still to race.
NBC switched their live coverage to figure skating, missing Ledecka’s heart stopping gold medal run. Kicking out of the gate 26th, the Czech skier/snowboarder nearly lost control off the final jump, recovered and crossed the finish line a mere 0.01 seconds ahead of Vieth, the defending Olympic super-G champion.
NBC Sports alpine skiing reporter Steve Porino shed light on the predicament, admitting they left the air as though Vieth had won, noting that there was a one hour broadcasting window for the event.
"We knew we had to go to the next venue at 20 (skiers), made a definite call based on historical odds," Porino said. "When she (Ledecka) took over, we broke into our other coverage to inform the audience of this historic win from the back and showed her run and an interview."
He noted "It's the biggest upset in Olympic alpine history based upon her rank."
Some tweets even compared NBC’s coverage of the ladies super-G to the infamous 1968 "Heidi" NFL Football Game, when the U.S. network abruptly left coverage in the waning minutes of a playoff game with New York Jets leading the Oakland Raiders 32-29. The Raiders mounted an amazing last minute comeback that was not seen as viewers watched the Disney film "Heidi."
Dubi added from an IOC perspective: "As far as the coverage of the various broadcasters, these are independent decisions that are made.
"From a broadcasting standpoint, I think we have quality of image that is absolutely stunning and this translates so far to some very impressive numbers in all markets."
Update on PyeongChang Venue Legacy Plans
Dubi says the IOC is pleased with the PyeongChang venue legacy plans, however it is important to remember the fate of three of the 12 remains to be determined – the Jeongseon Alpine Center, the Gangneung Hockey Center and the Gangneung Oval.
"This is something that we’ve been open with and have discussed, but the organizers and government still have to decide on the final destination for three," Dubi said.
Regarding the Jeongseon venue, the site of Ledecka’s astounding victory said: "It will remain an alpine skiing resort, the only thing is the replanting (of the trees)."
Referring to the eight venues with legacy plans in place, Dubi said."For the rest of it, when it comes to tourism and the usage of venues we are very comfortable that they have created the conditions to be successful."
The IOC official also noted that the new high-speed train and highway will continue to bring visitors from Seoul to the Gangwon province, boosting tourism in the region for years to come.
Written by Brian Pinelliin PyeongChang
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