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Ester Ledecká defends gold medal in parallel giant slalom

ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 08: Ester Ledecka of Team Czech Republic competes during the Women's Parallel Giant Slalom Qualification on Day 4 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Genting Snow Park on February 08, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Ester Ledecká successfully defended her women’s snowboarding giant slalom title in Beijing on Tuesday, becoming just the second Czech woman to win three Winter Olympic gold medals.

She joins speed skater Martina Sáblíková as the most decorated Olympian in Czech history.

The 26-year-old went up against Austrian Daniela Ulbing in the final. Ulbing won silver after falling during the final run, while Slovenia’s Gloria Kotnik took bronze.

“It was fun, I was trying to be consistent and just staying in my line with what I was doing the whole day,” Ledecká said, revealing that due to Ulbing’s tumble she was expecting another run. “I was so concentrated until the end that I didn’t even know if we had to go up one more time or not.

“I was not celebrating it at all, it’s still not sunken in. I’m super happy, but in my head, I’m just still a little bit in the race.”

For her part, Ulbing is happy with her result despite not finishing the final run.

“I had to risk it all to try to beat Ester,” Ulbing said. “That’s what I did and mistakes happen, but I’m pretty happy I ended up second. I’m really happy, it’s amazing. I don’t know what to say more, I’m just happy.”

Ledecká will now turn her attention to Friday’s Super-G race, where she will look to defend her gold medal. She made history four years ago when she became the first woman in Winter Olympic history to win gold medals in two different sports at the same Games.