Feb 14, 2013, 1:45 PM EDT
With two gold medals already in his pocket, Ted Ligety is the star of the 2013 Alpine World Ski Championships. And he hasn’t even skied the giant slalom yet; his best event.
If the 28-year old Utah native manages to notch a win in that event Friday, he’ll become only the fifth man to win three gold medals in a single world championships or Olympic Games, joining legends Jean-Claude Killy of France (the last man to do so in 1968), Emile Allais of France, Toni Sailer of Austria, and Stein Eriksen of Norway.
Heady company indeed, but even before Ligety lit up the worlds with his flawless skiing, he’d been dominating World Cup giant slaloms all season, winning four out of five races.
Even more impressive than this near perfect record is the manner in which he’s won. Back in October at the opening round of the World Cup in Sölden, Austria, Ligety bested the field by nearly three seconds, the biggest margin of victory in over 30 years. Subsequent wins have been similarly impressive.
The key has been a critical equipment change. New for the 2012-13 season, the FIS mandated that all giant slalom skis be longer and straighter, effectively pushing ski technology back to the 1980s. As a result, giant slalom racers are no longer able to charge straight at gates and jam on their edges to make quick line adjustments.
That’s fine by Ligety. Despite being one of the most vocal objectors to the change, the giant slalom specialist stood the most to gain. As one of the most gifted and technically sound skiers on the circuit, Ligety has always skied a cleaner, rounder line than his competitors, preferring to arc complete, edge-to-edge turns down an entire race course, instead of muscling his way around gates and drifting through turns.
So while other skiers have struggled to adjust to the new equipment, scrubbing speed every few gates in order to get back on line, Ligety has just kept on trucking, generating speed from turn-to-turn the entire way down the hill.
His one challenger could be current overall World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher, the only man to beat Ligety in giant slalom this season. The 23-year old Austrian, winner of four giant slaloms last season, as well as the discipline title, is finally adapting to the new equipment and would have beat Ligety in Adelboden, Switzerland last month had it not been for a crash right before the finish line. With host nation Austria uncharacteristically starved for medals, Hirscher will be hungry to dethrone “Mr. G.S.” in front of a home crowd.
But Ligety has momentum on his side. His gold medals in the super-G and combined came as complete surprises (he’d previously never won a super-G and hadn’t won a combined race since 2006), meaning that despite being the defending giant slalom World Champion, he’ll go into Friday’s race without any pressure.
Unless, of course, he starts thinking about records. Should he stay calm and win Friday’s giant slalom, however, Ligety will be propelled into the pantheon of all-time greats.
Oct 1, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT
Marathon world record smasher reportedly already has 2015 plans.
Oct 1, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
Game will be played in South Korea with more than a gold medal at stake.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:34 PM EDT
Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing are the two remaining finalists.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT
Trankov’s shoudler injury cited in withdrawing.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:38 AM EDT
Olympic team champion trained with her hip and thigh taped Wednesday.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:17 AM EDT
Vonn strapped on skis in Austria, preparing for her World Cup return later this fall.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT
Sprinter discusses Usain Bolt, reflects on 2014 and looks ahead to 2015.
Sep 30, 2014, 4:18 PM EDT
The 22-time Olympic medalist was pulled over in Maryland overnight.
Sep 30, 2014, 4:07 PM EDT
U.S.’ previous biggest blowout was 70 points over Senegal.
Sep 30, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
Competition for the U.S. begins Saturday.
Sep 30, 2014, 1:25 PM EDT
Summer and Winter Olympian previously said she was all but retired.
Sep 30, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT
Vancouver downhill champion expected to ski in Austria on Wednesday.
Sep 30, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT
Canadian joins long list of skaters sitting out this season.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT
Hungarian matched her Monday output on Tuesday but lacked top competition.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT
Olympic slalom champion also gave an update on her 2014-15 plans.
Sep 29, 2014, 1:16 PM EDT
Dennis Kimetto’s record-smashing win in Berlin brings the barrier into closer view.
Sep 29, 2014, 11:14 AM EDT
They call her the “Iron Lady” of swimming.
Sep 29, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
ISU asks for synchronized skating and a new speed skating event for 2018.
Sep 29, 2014, 10:27 AM EDT
Plushenko received criticism for withdrawing at Sochi Olympics.
Sep 28, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT
Serbia led 57-56 in the third quarter.
- Oslo withdraws 2022 Olympic bid after ‘no’ vote 0
- Justin Gatlin eyes more 200s after undefeated season 0
- Michael Phelps arrested on DUI charges 3
- Lauryn Williams ‘playing with the idea’ of bobsled this season 1
- Lindsey Vonn set for first skiing in 10 months, named 2016 Youth Olympics ambassador 0
- Talk of a sub-two-hour marathon 2
- Dennis Kimetto breaks world record at Berlin Marathon (video) 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)