Winter Olympics 2018: Ledecka stuns the world, joy for GB despite more Christie agony
Ester Ledecka pulled off one of the great Winter Olympic upsets on a day of high drama in Pyeongchang, sensationally claiming victory in the women's super-G when it appeared the medals had already been decided.
Ledecka - better known as a world champion snowboarder - was among the later starters in Saturday's race, with all of the supposed medal contenders having posted times and defending champion Anna Veith holding top spot.
Remarkably, Veith was pipped by one hundredth of a second, with the Czech Republic's Ledecka - who has never made the podium in an FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup event - seemingly as shocked as anyone by her accomplishment.
Elsewhere, Lizzy Yarnold retained her women's skeleton title with a stunning final run at the Olympic Sliding Centre and there was also a bronze medal for team-mate Laura Deas as Great Britain enjoyed their most successful day at a Winter Games, despite more heartbreak for short-track speed skater Elise Christie.
Like Yarnold, Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu defended his Olympic crown with victory in the men's singles, prompting amusing scenes of celebration at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
'I THOUGHT I WAS A BETTER SNOWBOARDER!'
Ledecka's reaction upon crossing the line was understandably one of amazement, after she got the better of Veith, bronze medallist Tina Weirather and the great Lindsey Vonn, who was sixth on her return to Olympic action.
After sitting down for a subsequent news conference still wearing her race goggles, Ledecka acknowledged she had not expected to prevail.
"I was not as prepared as the other girls that I would be at the [victory] ceremony. I don't have any make-up," said the 22-year-old.
Ledecka, who will compete in her preferred parallel giant slalom snowboarding event next week, added: "Until today, I thought I was a better snowboarder. I didn't really expect this would happen so soon on skis."
YARNOLD LEADS BRITISH CHARGE, BUT CHRISTIE PAIN CONTINUES
Yarnold and Deas claimed gold and bronze in the women's skeleton when the former's outstanding final run was followed by an error-strewn slide from Austria's Janine Flock, who consequently suffered the heartbreak of slipping from first to fourth.
Izzy Atkin had earned a bronze earlier on Saturday, in the women's freestyle skiing slopestyle, meaning Britain was able to celebrate an unprecedented three medals on the day, their best return in history. In addition, Yarnold is the first Briton to claim two Winter Olympic golds.
.@TheYarnold and @skeletonlaura secure #TeamGB's best day at a Winter Olympics ever, after Izzy Atkin's bronze earlier today.@TheYarnold - @skeletonlaura - #IzzyAtkin - #WeAreTheGreatpic.twitter.com/BLxWDAYzAc-- Team GB (@TeamGB) February 17, 2018
However, it was another truly miserable day for world champion speed skater Christie as she followed up her earlier crash in the women's 500m with a painful exit from her 1500m semi-final.
Christie was taken from the arena on a stretcher after colliding with Li Jinyu, who ultimately earned a silver medal behind South Korea's Choi Min-jeong after the Chinese was deemed blameless and put through to the final.
To make matters even worse for Christie, who was disqualified from all three of her events at the 2014 Games but is expected to recover for next week's 1000m after avoiding any broken bones, her boyfriend - Hungary's Shaolin Sandor Liu - also crashed in the men's 1000m final.
FIT-AGAIN HANYU HAILS 'BEST DAY OF MY SKATING LIFE'
Hanyu's participation in the Games was placed in doubt when he suffered a serious ankle injury last November, but he nevertheless produced a superb display to become the first man in 66 years to retain the men's singles title.
"This is the best day of my skating life," said Hanyu, who was once again showered in Winnie the Pooh bears - his lucky charm - after completing his routine.
Tigger skating?-- Omnisport (@OmnisportNews) February 17, 2018
The Olympic figure skating rink had to be cleared of Winnie the Pooh toys after Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu - a huge fan of the character - won gold in the men's singles today.#PyeongChang2018#WinterOlympicspic.twitter.com/PaJp8egeHF
"When I was injured there were days I was worried I would not be able to skate any more. Now I can continue with figure skating."