JEONGSEON, South Korea (AP) — This made no sense to Ester Ledecka. Just simply couldn’t be. Could. Not. Be.
Which is why the part-time ski racer, part-time snowboarder from the Czech Republic stood so still, absolutely motionless and expressionless, for several moments after crossing the finish line in the Olympic super-G and seeing the numbers on a video board that appeared to show she was fast enough to be the gold medalist. Not merely any gold medalist, but one of the most unconventional and out-of-nowhere gold medalists in Alpine history.
This, the 22-year-old Ledecka would explain later, was what went through her mind at that moment: “Is this a kind of mistake?”
Then came this: “OK, they’re going to change the time. I’m going to wait for a little bit, and you’re going to switch and (add) some more seconds.”
That never happened. This was no mistake. This was real. Her posted time of 1 minute, 21.11 seconds was, indeed, accurate. It was, indeed, 0.01 seconds — yes, one one-hundredth of a second — better than Austria’s Anna Veith, the defending Olympic champion and, as the leader until the moment when the relatively unknown and low-ranked Ledecka took her turn as the 26th woman down the slope, the presumed repeat Olympic champion.
Instead, it was Ledecka who collected the prized medal. This is someone who has participated in only 19 World Cup skiing races in her entire career — Mikaela Shiffrin, in contrast, has been in 23 this season alone — and only once finished as high as seventh. Someone who is a far more accomplished snowboarder, owning a world championship in the parallel giant slalom, an event she plans to enter at the Pyeongchang Games next week, an unprecedented achievement.
“She’s not a medal favorite. She just wanted to come here and be the first person ever to ski and snowboard race,” said Justin Reiter, who competed for the U.S. at the Sochi Olympics in snowboarding and now is Ledecka’s coach for that sport. “She stayed in her heart and she stayed in her own head and she skied like she can ski and it was beautiful to watch.”
Everything about this was remarkable. Or maybe that doesn’t even come close to capturing it. So pick another word. Extraordinary. Astonishing. Unbelievable. It was all of those things, and more, to Ledecka herself. To the rest of the field, which included superstar Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. and other past medalists such as Lara Gut of Switzerland and Federica Brignone of Italy. To everyone.
“Definitely shocking,” said Vonn, who tied for sixth.
“Just wow,” said Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin, a 2017 silver medalist at the world championships who was ninth Saturday.
That pretty much described the day at the Jeongseon Alpine Center, which began with a one-hour delay because of blustery winds that calmed but still played a factor during the race, serving as tailwinds for some skiers but acting as a headwind to others.
When things finally began under a clear-as-can-be blue sky, Vonn went first. The bronze medalist in super-G and gold medalist in downhill at the 2010 Vancouver Games but sidelined for the 2014 Olympics was fast in stretches. However, she lost a chunk of time both before the midpoint and again on the last key part of the course, a jump-turn combination that she flubbed and was sure cost her a medal.
“That’s why it’s so difficult to win at the Olympics,” Vonn said. “Because literally anything can happen.”
Sure seemed to this time.
First Gut, the 2016 overall World Cup champ and a downhill bronze medalist at Sochi, temporarily moved into first place. Then Weirather, the super-G silver medalist at last year’s world championships, moved in front by 0.01 seconds. Then it was Veith who took over first place, by 0.10 seconds. And that’s how things stood for the next 10 skiers. It is generally considered unlikely — although not impossible, of course — for anyone outside of the first 20 starters to emerge as the winner.
Veith was sure she’d clinched a gold. Weirather figured the silver was hers. Gut couldn’t wait to get that bronze around her neck.
“They were a little bit in shock,” Ledecka said. “They were staring at me a little bit.”
Now comes a decision for Ledecka. The Alpine downhill is Wednesday and requires serious training runs down the mountain beforehand. Qualifying for her snowboard event is Thursday.
So which should she focus on?
“I’m sure that my ski coach will be a little bit pushy on downhill,” Ledecka said. “But my snowboard coach wants me on snowboard.”
Her work in the two sports can help her performance in each.
The speed from skiing translates to snowboarding. And the balance required in snowboarding is a boost for ski racing. Reiter pointed out, for example, that on the same final jump that gave Vonn trouble Saturday, Ledecka’s weight shifted too far backward, but she managed to recover.
“It was kind of scary there for a moment. She was able to save it,” he said. “And that’s because of her heart and because of her ability with a snowboard.”
Ledecka proved to be pretty adept at her other sport, too.
Unlikely as it might have seemed, she forever will be able to call herself an Olympic Alpine champion.
“The fact that she’s able to beat all of us and be a snowboarder is pretty darn impressive,” Vonn said. “At the Olympics, a lot of weird stuff happens.”
AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar contributed to this report.
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org/
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Latest on Mitt Romney’s run for a Utah Senate seat (all times local):
Republican Mitt Romney is shaking hands and taking selfies with excited college students as he starts collecting voter signatures for his Utah Senate campaign.
The 2012 presidential candidate was swarmed by excited students Friday afternoon at Utah Valley University in the city of Orem.
Hours after making his campaign announcement early Friday morning, Romney filed paperwork with Utah’s elections office allowing him to start collecting the signatures of 28,000 registered Republicans to earn a spot on a June primary ballot.
Freshman student Cienna Dorny signed Romney’s petition and snapped a picture on her iPhone of her posing with the candidate.
Dorny, a registered Republican, says Romney “has his head on straight” and she’s excited to see what he can do for Utah.
Republican Mitt Romney is trying for a political comeback as he launches a Senate campaign in Utah.
The former presidential nominee made his campaign official Friday in an online video after a delaying his launch following a deadly shooting at a Florida high school.
Romney is considered a heavy favorite for the Senate seat held by Orrin Hatch. The longtime Republican senator is retiring.
Romney has been a persistent critic of President Donald Trump, but those close to Romney say he’ll focus his campaign instead on Utah.
They say Romney will suggest Washington has much to learn from the state the former Massachusetts governor now calls home. Romney is well-known in Utah for having managed the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. His 2012 presidential bid was lost to incumbent Barack Obama.
LONDON (AP) — It’s time for London to enjoy its stint as the center of the fashion universe.
London Fashion Week kicked off Friday with catwalk shows by Bora Aksu and Mulberry, and headliners over the next few days include Burberry, Christopher Kane, Roksanda and other favorites.
Designer Vivienne Westwood, 76, shifted away from her usual role to be a model — this time in an anti-fracking protest.
MULBERRY MOVES ‘BEYOND HERITAGE’ BUT STILL BUILDS ON BRITISHNESS
Mulberry and its creative director Johnny Coca titled the spring and summer collection “Beyond Heritage” to emphasize that it’s a modern house capable of innovation and surprise — even though the impressive show was built on English archetypes, including garden parties, Ladies’ Day at Ascot and other traditions of the summer season.
It was a fun, breezy show, even despite being staged in Spencer House, a grand 18th-century mansion in the posh St. James district. The collection made stunning use of imaginative statement hats, even if a few were literally over the top and obscured the models’ eyes. Many were simply spectacular, angular and birdlike, and added a touch of whimsy, and more than a few inches of stature, to the outfits.
Many of the ensembles were more revealing than would be worn at a typical garden party — with sheer bodices or very low cut fronts — but there were a few more classical dresses that would fit in well at Buckingham Palace. Some were reminiscent of the 1920s flapper era, and bold African-style prints were sometimes mixed in.
“I thought it was amazing,” said actress Emma Roberts, who watched from a front row seat. “I like the feminine and the bedazzle.”
BORA AKSU SHOWS FEMININE, FROTHY CREATIONS
For London-based Turkish designer Bora Aksu, a longtime Fashion Week favorite, it was time to emphasize romance in his autumn/winter collection.
Asku’s show featured a collection of long, frilly dresses that were elaborately constructed and included a mixture of semi-sheer panels.
Favored colors were white with black detailing and shades of dark blue, lavender and pink.
Some of the outfits offered new interpretations of the traditional British prep school look. The jackets were androgynous, the skirts or leggings long and feminine. The looks were often asymmetrical, highlighted by a long, jeweled earring dangling from one ear.
The designer said the collection Friday was inspired by the story of a young Georgian-era woman who challenged stereotypes by becoming a prominent surgeon at a time when most doctors were male.
LAVISH COLOR AS FYODOR GOLAN TEAMS WITH MTV
Designer Fyodor Golan’s catwalk show celebrated flight, with some outfits loosely modeled on hot air balloons and billowing parachutes.
He made raucous use of bold, contrasting colors — including bright red and orange, cobalt blue and ivory. His signature rainbow stripes were plentiful, giving the collection a youthful flair.
There were surprises: some athletic wear seemed purely functional, if elaborately constructed, but concealed delicately made silk layers. There were sexy white hoodie outfits — better for showing off on the street than in the gym — and slouchy knit tops.
A few models wore decorative, oversized backpacks, again more for show than for actual travel. Golan made extensive use of dramatic white makeup, often applied on the forehead or over one eye, and decorated some outfits with sparkles.
The collaboration with MTV also marked how long it’s been since the video channel first took off in the Michael Jackson era. Golan said MTV has been the “voice of youth culture for decades” and that embracing this legacy brought back “memories of our teenage years.”
Many of the casual outfits bore the familiar MTV logo or Golan’s own FG imprint.
CURVY WOMEN PROTEST IN LONDON
Everyone knows most fashion models at catwalk shows are ultra-thin and very tall. That doesn’t sit well with a group of self-proclaimed “curvy” women, who protested Friday outside London Fashion Week headquarters on the Strand in central London.
The group included Hayley Hasselhoff, daughter of the well-known “Baywatch” star David Hasselhoff.
“LFW — Where are the curves?” read one sign carried by a protester.
NEW ROLE FOR VIVIENNE WESTWOOD: MODEL, NOT DESIGNER
Designer Vivienne Westwood is not showing in London this season but she has already made waves by appearing as a model in an anti-fracking protest.
The 76-year-old designer wore a campaign dress and a placard denouncing fracking at an event Thursday. She has spoken out repeatedly on environmental issues and warned of the dangers of climate change.
FASHION: A BIG MONEY GAME FOR BRITAIN
Caroline Rush, chief of the British Fashion Council, said in her opening speech that the fashion industry now contributes roughly 30 billion pounds ($42 billion) to Britain’s economy each year, making it a business of substantial importance.
Fashion officials released figures indicating that Chinese visitors have surpassed Americans as the prime buyers in the London luxury fashion field.
This story corrects the dollar conversion of the British Fashion Council’s data to $42 billion.
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Applebee’s has closed a Kansas City-area restaurant where two black women said they were falsely accused of not paying for meals in an earlier visit.
The Kansas City Star reports that it’s unclear whether if the closure was directly related to the racial profiling incident because the Independence Center Mall where it’s located is scheduled for a foreclosure sale Friday.
Applebee’s announced earlier this week that it fired three employees and temporarily closed the restaurant after the two women posted a video showing an employee, a police officer and a mall security guard confronting them for “dining and dashing” during a previous visit, which the women denied.
Applebee’s spokeswoman Melissa Hart said Thursday the restaurant would be permanently closed.
Independence police also said they investigated the officer’s conduct during the incident but wouldn’t comment on the review’s findings.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
1. DETAILS EMERGE FROM SCHOOL SHOOTING
A timeline released by Florida authorities shows that the 19-year-old former student who confessed to a deadly high school shooting was only in the building for six minutes.
2. DID FBI MISS A WARNING BEFORE THE MASS SHOOTING
Last fall, a Mississippi bail bondsman and video blogger noticed a comment on one of his YouTube videos that said, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The commenter’s username was “Nikolas Cruz.”
3. SENATE REJECTS IMMIGRATION BILLS
The Senate has left hundreds of thousands of “Dreamer” immigrants in limbo, rejecting rival plans that would have spared them from deportation.
4. CIVILIANS HAVE NO PLACE TO RUN AS TURKEY OFFENSIVE DRAGS ON
Nearly a month into Turkey’s offensive in Afrin, hundreds of thousands of Syrians are hiding from bombs and airstrikes in caves and basements, trapped in the Kurdish enclave.
5. WHERE THE 2014 CHAMPION FINISHED IN THE OLYMPIC SLALOM
Mikaela Shiffrin finished fourth behind gold medalist Frida Hansdotter of Sweden after feeling some nerves and skiing too conservatively.
6. HOW TRUMP IS RESPONDING TO FLORIDA SHOOTING
President Donald Trump promises to tackle school safety and ‘the difficult issue of mental health’ in response to deadly shooting in Florida.
7. WHICH CANDIDATE HOPES TO DEFEAT MILLIONAIRES IN ILLINOIS
A former math professor is campaigning as a middle-class candidate in an Illinois governor’s race that includes a couple millionaires and a billionaire.
8. INDEPENDENTS POISED TO SHAKE UP MEXICO’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Three political party outsiders in Mexico appear destined for the July 1 ballot as the first independent candidates to seek the country’s presidency.
9. WHAT’S STIRRING EUTHANASIA FEARS IN BELGIUM
The death of a dementia patient who never formally asked to die, has again raised concerns about weak oversight in a country with some of the world’s most liberal euthanasia laws.
10. ANCIENT BEARD TRADITIONS SHAPE THE FACE OF MODERN JERUSALEM
For men of all faiths in the holy city, a beard can be an important statement of religious devotion, connecting past generations to God through the tangled strands of history.
NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald’s is taking cheeseburgers and chocolate milk off its Happy Meal menu in an effort to cut down on the calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar that kids consume at its restaurants.
Diners can still ask specifically for cheeseburgers or chocolate milk with the kid’s meal, but the fast-food company said that not listing them will reduce how often they’re ordered. Since it removed soda from the Happy Meal menu four years ago, orders for it with Happy Meals have fallen 14 percent, the company said. Hamburgers and Chicken McNuggets will remain the main entrees on the Happy Meal menu.
The Happy Meal, which has been around for nearly 40 years, has long been a target of health advocates and parents who link it to childhood obesity. McDonald’s has made many tweaks over the years, including cutting the size of its fries and adding fruit. Most recently, it swapped out its apple juice for one that has less sugar.
It’s been especially important as the company tries to shake its junk-food image, since McDonald’s is known for getting more business from families with children relative to its traditional rivals, such as Burger King and Wendy’s. McDonald’s doesn’t say how much revenue it makes from the $3 Happy Meal, but the company said 30 percent of all visits come from families.
McDonald’s will make the changes, including new nutritional standards for the Happy Meal changes, by June in the United States.
“It’s a good step in the right direction,” said Margo Wootan, the vice president for nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “We would love to see many more restaurants do the same.”
McDonald’s said Thursday that it wants all its Happy Meal options to have 600 calories or fewer and have less than 650 milligrams of sodium. It also wants less than 10 percent of the meal’s calories to come from saturated fat and the same percentage to come from added sugar.
The cheeseburger and chocolate milk didn’t meet those new standards, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said. It is, however, working to cut sugar from the chocolate milk and believes it’ll be back on the Happy Meal menu eventually — but doesn’t know when that will happen.
Trudy Munk, a mother of three from Lombard, Illinois, who was at a McDonald’s with her 3-year-old niece on Thursday, said she wasn’t sure if the changes would make much of a difference.
“I just feel like if you are coming to McDonalds, you’re not necessarily looking for the healthiest option,” she said. “I see it as a treat and I don’t mind getting my kids French fries or the cheeseburgers.”
There will be other tweaks: The six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meal will now come with a kids-sized fries instead of a small, lowering calories and sodium from the fries by half. And bottled water will be added as an option to the Happy Meal menu, but will cost extra. Currently, the Happy Meal menu lists milk, chocolate milk and apple juice. Soda does not cost extra.
For international restaurants, McDonald’s Corp. said that at least half of the Happy Meal options available must meet its new nutritional guidelines. The company said some are adding new menu items to comply, like in Italy, where a grilled chicken sandwich was added to the Happy Meal menu.
Associated Press video journalist Carrie Antlfinger in Oak Brook, Illinois, contributed to this report.
Contact Joseph Pisani at http://twitter.com/josephpisani