Alpine ski racer Ted Ligety won the gold medal in the giant slalom in Sochi on Wednesday, setting several Olympic records.
The win made the 29-year-old Park City, UT native the first American male skier to win the Olympic giant slalom. He also became the first American male to win two Olympic gold medals in Apline skiing.
Ligety previously won the gold medal in the men’s combined event in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
He joins Andrea Mead-Lawrence as one of only two Americans to take home gold medals in Apline skiing. She won the slalom and giant slalom in 1952 at the Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway.
“I’ve been wanting to win this medal my whole life, but in a realistic sense the last four years,” Ligety said. “All season long everybody talks about the Olympics, Olympics, Olympics. At a certain point I was just like, ‘Let’s do it already. Let’s just get this thing over with so we can stop talking about the pressure and everything with it.'”
Ligety finished the race with a combined two-run time of 2 minutes, 45.29 seconds. Steve Missillier of France finished 0.48 behind to take the silver medal and his fellow Frenchman Alexis Pinturault took the bronze, finishing 0.64 behind Ligety.
“To be able to throw it down in the event I had the most pressure in, and the event I was the favorite in — to be able to do that is awesome,” Ligety said. “This was really the event that I wanted to win. … I know where I stand in giant slalom.”
Known for being humble and upbeat, Ligety has been called “one of the nicest men in ski racing.”
— Meredith Vieira (@meredithvieira) February 11, 2014
Fellow Olympian and Alpine ski racer Bode Miller had nothing but words of praise for Ligety: “I think he’s one of the best GS skiers in history,” Miller said. “He’s so much better at it than everybody else. … He just is so consistent. He makes no errors. And anybody who’s trying to cut off line just ends up making mistakes and it makes a huge gap.”
Ligety will compete in the men’s slalom event on February 22. Miller, who won the bronze in the men’s super-G on Sunday, announced that he will sit out the slalom after tweaking his surgically repaired knee in the giant slalom.
Image via Wikimedia Commons