Who is Eva Samkova?
Name: Eva Samkova
Country: Czech Republic
2016/17 World Cup ranking: 1st
- 2014 Olympic gold medalist
- 2017 World Cup season champion
- 3-time junior world champion (2010, 2011, 2013)
- 2-time X Games silver medalist (2014, 2016)
Samkova made her Olympic debut in 2014, setting the fastest qualifying time and then winning all of her heat races en route to the gold medal.
After earning her first Crystal Globe in 2017, Samkova will be a gold-medal threat once again in PyeongChang. She consistently found her way onto podiums last season despite competing in one of the most unpredictable Olympic sports.
Samkova is the only athlete from the Czech Republic to ever win an Olympic medal in any snowboarding event. If she's able to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang, she'd be the first woman from any country to win multiple gold medals in snowboard cross.
When she races, Samkova likes to do so with a highly visible good-luck charm — a mustache painted above her upper lip. At the last Olympics, she opted for a patriotic red, white and blue design that represented the colors of the Czech flag.
Samkova grew up in a town located at the foot of a popular mountain range (known as the Giant Mountains) in the Czech Republic and began snowboarding when she was 6. She originally participated in freestyle events, but after a series of injuries, she found boardercross to be a better fit for her. That led to her winning a trio of junior world titles in the sport from 2010-2013.
Following up on her win at the last Olympics, Samkova has continued her ascent up the rankings. She finished second in the World Cup standings for the 2015/16 season, then won her first World Cup title in 2016/17. During that most recent season, she finished either first or second at five of seven events. In 2016, she earned her second X Games silver medal (finishing behind Lindsey Jacobellis). One thing still missing from her collection is a world championships medal — in her most recent bids, the Czech snowboarder placed sixth in 2015 and 12th in 2017.
Off the snow
When she's not riding a snowboard, Samkova will often ride horses instead. She's also capable of playing the saxophone.
"It’s a lucky charm. … It all started in La Molina at the 2011 World Championships, which were my first. I painted a moustache on and I finished fifth." — Eva Samkova on the origin of the mustache (Olympic.org)