Giant win puts Ligety in league of his own

Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:54pm EST
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By Steve Keating

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Ted Ligety does not have a headline grabbing relationship like Lindsey Vonn nor does he court controversy like showman Bode Miller.

But he does have more alpine world championship medals than any American skier after a breath-taking giant slalom win on Friday.

Overshadowed by his more flamboyant team mates off the piste, Ligety again proved he takes a backseat to no one on the mountain by coming to the rescue in electrifying but familiar fashion to end a U.S. gold medal drought at the posh Colorado resort.

The world championships had not unfolded as planned for the U.S. on home snow as Vonn, the headliner at Beaver Creek and most successful women's skier of all time, exited with a bronze and Miller crashed out early in his opening race.

Heading into the final weekend the only hardware American ski fans had to celebrate were a silver from Travis Ganong in the downhill and a pair of third-place finishes from Ligety and Vonn, who was cheered on by her golfer boyfriend, Tiger Woods.

But Ligety got the weekend party started early up and down the Vail Valley with a jaw-dropping second-leg charge down the plunging Birds of Prey track that carried him to the top of the podium ahead of first leg leader and three-time overall World Cup winner Marcel Hirscher of Austria.

Ligety has long believed there is no such thing as a perfect run but, for the thousands of American ski fans who packed the finish area grandstands on a sun-kissed afternoon, the 30-year-old American's second leg was about as good as it gets.

"One of the cool things about ski racing is there is never a perfect run so it's hard to be satisfied in that sense, you can always go that extra step," Ligety told Reuters at the end of an autograph session for one of his sponsors, GoPro.   Continued...

Feb 13, 2015; Beaver Creek, CO, USA; Ted Ligety of the United States reacts after run two of the men's giant slalom in the FIS alpine skiing world championships at Birds of Prey Racecourse. Ligety came in first place.  Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports