1968. That's how far back you need to go to find a performance like American Ted Ligety put on at the World Skiing Championships, which just concluded its two-week run in Schladming, Austria. Ligety took gold in the super-G, combined, and giant slalom. Not since Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy won all four events at the 1968 worlds had anyone put on such a show. Killy had previously won all three events--slalom, giant slalom, and downhill--at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. (The Olympics had only three skiing events for men and women at that time, as opposed to the five events that exist today.)
"This is a great feeling. I am glad I've done it," Ligety said after winning the giant slalom. Add in the GS title he won at the 2011 worlds, and Ligety has equaled the four golds won by Bode Miller at the World Championships, best among American men. His attempt at matching Killy's mark came up short when he failed to finish the first run in Sunday's slalom.
Ligety had already won four of the five GS events on this year's World Cup circuit, and his performance in Schladming makes him a favorite for mulitple medals at next year's Sochi Olympics, which take place February 7-23, 2014.
He was not the only American to shine in Schladming. The U.S. women also faired well, in spite of the absense of Lindsey Vonn, who injured her knee in the opening women's super-G. Vonn had surgery last week, and it is hoped that she can make a full recovery priot to Sochi.
Julia Mancuso continued her habit of racing well in big events by winning bronze in that super-G. More importantly, teenager Mikaela Shiffrin won gold in the slalom. She continues to set marks for "youngest ever to..." accomplish various things in women's skiing. Shiffrin had already won three slalom titles on the World Cup tour. Depending on Vonn's status next winter, Shiffrin could be the American woman to watch in Sochi, not just in skiing, but in all sports.