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Ted Ligety proves he's king of giant slalom

Posted by Dan Egan  February 19, 2014 11:37 AM

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There was plenty of praise heaped on American Ted Ligety following his victory in the giant slalom at the Winter Olympics on Wednesday.

A sampling:

Bode Miller called Ligety "the best GS racer of all time."

US Ski Team head coach Sasha Rearick : "He hates to lose and he trains the hardest and technically there is no one better.”

Alexis Pinturault, who won the bronze medal, said “Ted is the fastest GS guy in the world. We all know it.”

300ligety1.jpgSo what is the magic sauce for Ligety?

“I’m a student of the sport. I analyze the top skiers and I focus on what I can do to go faster. I want to win and I want to keep winning,” Ligety said after he became the second American to win two Olympic gold medals. Andrea Mead-Lawrence won both the slalom and giant slalom at the 1952 Olympics in Oslo, Norway.

Calm in the face of the pressure is might also be part of his formula for winning.

“There is a lot of pressure for me because I was the favorite, and none of the favorites have won here in Sochi so far. I’m the first and I felt the pressure, but it’s my third Olympics and I knew I was prepared to do it," Ligety said.

In the second run Wednesday, the GS course had big holes and ruts, especially on the steep section above the flats. Racers were getting bounced around the steeps, which caused them to lose speed on the flats.

“Basically if you slowed down above the steeps and skied a tight line, you could make the speed up on the flats, which is what I did,” Ligety said.

Ligety has perfected the “Skivit” which is a move he makes above the gate. What he does is skids the ski into position and then pressures the edge and carves out of the turn. This allows him to ski a tight line, minus the acceleration, above the gate. It has become his signature move and few if any do it as well as Ligety.

“Look, he is technically perfect, his tactics are strong and he knows he can win,“ said
NBC Olympics radio announcer and Olympian Doug Lewis.

Meanwhile New Hampshire's Bode Miller finished 20th on Wednesday.

“Bode is having equipment issues. Imagine, he has been racing for 17 years and he still is changing out equipment between runs at the Olympics,” Lewis said.

Ligety has been training on this mountain in Sochi for a number of years because of an agreement between the Russian Ski Federation and the US Ski Team. Both teams train together in South America, Colorado, and in Sochi.

That paid off big time for Ligety.

“I know this mountain and I knew to be careful on the knoll. The first time I trained here two years ago I didn't finish one run on that trail,” he said.

Miller did not take part in those training sessions.

Ligety put to bed the failings of Vancouver in Sochi. When asked about it, he just shrugged.

“That was four years ago and four FIS World Cup titles ago. I don’t think about it at all,” he said.

The US Ski Team has a dominant force in Ligety, who is only 29 and has his sights set on 2018 and beyond. He is a mellow guy, with blonde hair and a smile and he has confidently confirmed that he is the best in the world in GS.

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