The kid from Park CityThere was no better place for a budding young skier like Ted Ligety to grow up than Park City Mountain Resort in the Wasatch Mountains, right in the heart of the Rockies of Utah, the state whose car registration plates bear the legend “Greatest Snow on Earth”. Blessed with a natural talent and an ultra-competitive streak, the young Ligety loved racing and quickly earned a place at the resort’s Winter Sports School, which strives for both educa-tional and sporting excellence. Having graduated back in 2002, Ligety is now one of the school’s ambassadors.
A champion in TurinRecognised for his skiing skills, particularly his spectacular gift for cutting turns, Ligety starred on the USA junior team before competing at the age of 19 in his first World Cup event, a giant slalom in November 2003 at his home resort in Salt Lake City, which just a few months earlier had hosted the Alpine events at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
It was not long before Ligety was competing in giant slalom, slalom and the combined, gradually working his way to the top of his sport. The first major success of his career came at Turin 2006 when he won Olympic gold in the combined. Trailing in 32nd place after the downhill, he turned in two breath-taking slalom runs to top the podium ahead of Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic and Austria’s Rainer Schönfelder.
Accolades aplentyUltimately it was in giant slalom that the American skier was best able to express his pro-digious ability. His maiden World Cup win in the event came in Yongpyong (KOR) on 5 March 2006, the start of an extended period of domination in which he won the giant sla-lom small crystal globe five times between 2008 and 2014, scored a succession of victo-ries (22 of them through to the end of the 2014 season) and won the giant slalom world title in 2011 and 2013.
Supreme in Sochi “The GS is my event. I have to win it,” said Ligety, two days before taking on the world at Sochi 2014. Wearing the No7 bib, the American surged ahead of the field on the first run and stayed strong on the second to win by 0.48 seconds from Steve Missilier, whose fellow Frenchman Alexis Pinturault finished 0.16 further back in third. He followed his Sochi success with victories in the final two giant slaloms of the 2013-14 season, letting the rest of the world know in no uncertain terms that he was in no mood to hand over his crown.