Ted Ligety became the first American man to win two gold medals in Alpine skiiing when he destroyed his competition with a dominating performance in the giant slalom today at the Sochi Olympics, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times newspaper. Ligety previously won a gold medal at the Turin Winter Olympics eight years ago. He also becomes the first American man to win a gold medal in the Sochi Olympics in an Alpine skiing event.
Following his dominating performance into today's gold medal run in the giant slalom NBC's Bob Costas interviewed him, asking, "What does your future look like for skiing?"
Ligety said, "I'm only 29. I intend to continue skiing. I may compete four years from now in the South Korean Olympics."
A third gold medal would really establish Ligety's supremacy in a sport he truly loves. His greatness was already established by his second gold medal today. Maybe by his career record even before today.
Ligety was only 21 and not expected to do anything in Turin, Italy when he shocked the world by winning his first gold meal in the super combined. He had to beat six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller and Austrian great Benny Raich to win that first gold medal in the country shaped like a boot.
Miller missed a gate in his initial slalom run in Italy which allowed the then unknown Ligety to surge past him for the gold. Raich also made a mistake when he hooked a second-run gate only feet from the finsih line.
It was then the world first was introduced to Ligety. All the pre-race publicity in Italy had gone to the swashbuckling renegade Miller and the highly-rated Raich. But Ligety came from nowhere to snatch the gold medal.
But the gold medal in the Sochi Olympics was Ligety's crowning glory and guarantees his place in history. While the gold medal at Italy was an unexpected dream come true, today's accomplishment was actually more difficult in some ways, according to Ligety.
In comparing his two gold medals, Ligety explained that the first gold medal, "didn't have the same sort of struggles along the way and the emotions behind it."
His failure to medal four years ago at Vancouver had raised some questions. And increased Ligety's determination to prove the first medal was no fluke. Once again the favorite, he did one of the most difficult things to do in the Olympics. He won when he was expected to win. All the stress of the world was on his shoulders this time.
Considered to be the greatest giant slalom racer of his generation, he risked being labeled a choker if he didn't make it to the podium this year. This gold medal in Russia silenced his doubters and wiped out the disappointments of Vancouver.
Ligety appeared to be bracing himself for a possible disaster in these Olympics as he said, "Skiing is not like swimming in the Olympics. In swimming the best swimmer in the world usually wins the gold. But in skiing that doesn't always happen. So many things can go wrong that often the best skier doesn't take the gold medal home."
Maybe he was remembering Vancouver when he said that.
Ligety considered Vancouver his point of inspiration. He said recently, "I've answered Vancouver questions for the last four years. My best years have been since then, in a lot of ways because of that."
Ligety could've folded his tent after Vancouver and called it quits. After all, he'd won his gold medal in Turin in 2006. Instead, he had the heart of a champion and roared back to dominate the world.
Teammate Miller, who will be retiring soon, said, "There is no question who the best grand slalom skier in the world is."
Austrian great Raich, 35, has waved the white flag after competing with Ligety for years now. He said, "It is impossible. I have tried it all. I've given all my power and have still lost. This is the last time for me."
Ligety has achieved his greatness partially because he has created his own unique style of carving turns like nobody else can in the world. He uses arcing turns which include his hips touching the snow. While his circles are wider around gates, his technique allows him to build up greater speed than anyone else on the face of the earth.
He had a huge 0.93 second lead after his first run, according to ESPN. This allowed him a cushion and he was able to take fewer risks on the second run to win by O.48 of a second over French skier Steve Missilier. Another Frenchman Alexis Pinturault was third 0.64 seconds behind the American.
Ligety has so dominated his field that he has won nine of the last 14 grand slalom races this season.
Ligety trains in Park City, Utah.
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