Members of the Czech Olympic team touched down in Prague on Monday – back from Pyeongchang and one of the most successful winter games in recent memory. It was an Olympics where speed skater Martina Sablíková and snowboard cross competitor Eva Samková confirmed they still had it and Ester Ledecká made history by winning golds in snowboard and super-G. On Monday afternoon, she, Martina Sablíková and others were greeted by thousands at the Old Town Square.
The winter Olympic Games have a special place in many Czech fans’ hearts and it’s not hard to see why: in the past, there was gold in hockey at Nagano ’98, there was Aleš Valenta’s aerial at Salt Lake City in 2002 and Kateřina Neumanová’s nail-biting gold at Turin, unparalleled success in biathlon at Sochi in 2014 - the list goes on.
At the 2018 games, history was written by seven medal winners as well as several close finishes just outside the podium.
The most shocking feat of all, of course, was Ester Ledecká’s surprise win in the women’s super-G together with her rather more expected, although by no means certain, win in the women’s snowboard parallel slalom.
In short, it was an Olympics to remember and so it was not surprising that some 4,000 people turned out to see their heroes in the centre of Prague on Monday afternoon.
The skier/snowboarder, who grew up and trained at Špindlerův mlýn north Bohemia, was greeted with long applause and appeared for long seconds almost as speechless as when she shocked the skiing world with her super-G upset and herself couldn’t believe the result.
Once she got her bearings, to continued cheers and swells of applause by the crowd, the champion first and foremost thanked everyone for braving cold weather to be there, as well as the city of Prague for having organized the event.
“Um… I’d really like to thank everyone for coming out and waiting in this cold. I thought there’d be only a few tourists here at the astronomical clock and I’d say ‘Hi’ and be one my way. Ahoj! You guys are wonderful.’
Some had waited several hours to see her and fellow medal winners, coming from around the country. Few, if any, regretted it. There is no question that images of her gold wins, in her superhero/robo suit will endure for years to come. Her father, well known Czech singer, songwriter, and performer Janek Ledecký tabloids maintain is writing a song for her, while it is well-known that her older brother, Jonáš, a designer, was the one who fashioned the look of her futuristic robo apparel.
In the run up to the Olympics and especially during, he made clear he adored his sister and supported her publically at every turn.
Her father said in one interview during the games that the family would, however, continue to protect their daughter, limiting interviews and exposure so she could focus on the task at hand. Now that the Olympics are over, it seems probable she will give the odd interview here and there.