KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — For years, Ted Ligety has so owned giant slalom racing on the World Cup circuit that he had ended the argument about whether he was one of the best of all-time. Now, after a performance here in which no other racer could hope to touch him, he has Olympic gold to top it off.
Ligety took a huge lead in his first run Wednesday and did enough in his second run to hang on to win the giant slalom, rounding out his resume in the discipline — with more turns and technical elements than downhill but more speed than slalom. His combined time was 2 minutes, 45:29 seconds, .48 seconds better than France’s Steve Missillier. Alexis Pinturault, also of France, won bronze. Ligety is the first American male with two Alpine Olympic golds.
“It was a huge relief,” Ligety said. “I’ve been wanting to win this medal for my whole life.”
Ligety, a 29-year-old from Park City, Utah, held an advantage of 0.93 of a second after the morning first run – which doesn’t sound like much, until you consider that span of time covered the third through 17th finishers. It put him in perfect position for the afternoon, when he could ski hard but not at risk of making a significant error.
Ligety’s first gold medal came in surprising fashion when he won a combined (downhill and slalom) at the 2006 Turin Games. He then went on to establish himself as the best giant slalom racer in the world, winning last year’s World Championship in the discipline as well as four season-long titles on the World Cup circuit.
The only thing that remained: an Olympic medal. Ligety finished a disappointing ninth in giant slalom in Vancouver, so there was pressure to perform here.
“I knew I was a favorite coming into today,” he said. “Having struggles in Vancouver, having a little bit of a lackluster so far for me up until today, I knew there was a lot of pressure on today, and I really wanted to perform and ski the way I can ski. To be able to perform and do what I wanted to do on the skis and have it equal a gold medal is truly awesome.”