Ted Ligety had learned to ski in Park City, one of the areas used in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. He had only been racing regularly internationally since 2005 and had never won a top-flight competition. However he did come to Turin in form, with three World Cup podium finishes in the run-up to the Games. His first race was the combined.
The favourite in the combined, Benjamin Raich, from Austria, was considered the world's best slalom skier and able to make up for his shortcomings in the downhill with his speed through the gates. Ligety might fight for a medal – but surely he couldn't beat Raich?
True to form, the Austrian was sluggish in the downhill but strong in the slalom. He held the overall lead after its first run, but then straddled a gate in the second slalom run and did not finish the competition. Suddenly the battle was wide open.
Another contender should have been the American Bode Miller, who led after the downhill section. He, too, failed to finish the slalom and suddenly new faces were emerging. Among them - Ligety, who had been a distant 32nd in the downhill but had gone quickest of all in the first slalom.
In the second run, with Raich slipping out of the medal race, Ligety held his nerve. He had never been in contention to win a major combined before, but the tension didn't show. Instead, Ligety set the second fastest time behind France's Jean-Baptiste Grange, who was not a medal contender. He won the title by more than half a second.