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Dual threat Ester Ledecka skis to 1st World Cup downhill win

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta -- Czech Republic racer Ester Ledecka, who also competes in snowboarding, made a charge from late in the field for her first World Cup victory on the ski side.

The 26th racer to take the course, Ledecka finished in 1 minute, 31.87 seconds to capture the women's season-opening downhill competition on Friday. The 24-year-old Ledecka edged Corinne Suter of Switzerland by 0.35 seconds on a snowy afternoon on a shortened course.

Ledecka's previous best result in World Cup downhill was seventh two years ago in Lake Louise.

She appeared stunned when she saw her time on the scoreboard.

"I was a little bit thinking it was some mistake, but it's OK. I'm maybe getting used to it," Ledecka said. "I had some plan in my head how to do it from the inspection and what my coach says, and I think in some ways I was not that good in sticking to the plan. I thought it was not that good of a run, but in the end, it was fast, so that's all [that] matters."

If Ledecka's surge from back of the pack sounds familiar, it's because Ledecka made a similar run -- wearing bib No. 26 -- at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, in which she captured a stunning gold medal in the super-G. She followed that by winning the parallel giant slalom in snowboarding to become the first athlete to win two golds at a Winter Games using two different types of equipment.

Ledecka dabbles in both ski and snowboard competitions. Her best finish on the Alpine side before this race was seventh in a 2017 downhill race in Lake Louise. She has won 17 World Cup races in the snowboard realm.

Stephanie Venier of Austria wound up third, and three-time overall World Cup winner Mikaela Shiffrin took 10th.