- Alpine Skiing
Alpine origins: Ted Ligety
American Ted Ligety is coming of an historic 2013 season that saw him become the first skier in 45 years to win three gold medals at the World Championships. As he prepares for his third Olympics in Sochi, the Torino Games super-combined champion recalls his start in the sport.
How did you first get your start in skiing?
I first started skiing when I was two years old. I grew up in Park City, Utah. So skiing's kind of the obvious thing to do. In a way, it was one of my babysitters. Because, you know, I could go get dropped off by my parents and be able to go ski with my friends all day. And that was a pretty good way to occupy my time. I started ski racing when I was 10 years old and basically fell in love with the sport immediately and started taking it really seriously. I made the U.S. Ski Team when I was 18.
When did you first realize you had that kind of potential in skiing?
I think when I was 12 years old, I knew I was good at ski racing. But at that time, I actually wasn't anywhere close to the best, even on my local ski club. The Park City ski team was one of the best ski clubs in the nation, when I was growing up, and I had some friends of mine that were actually the best in the world at their age. So, I got beaten pretty handily a lot when I was growing up. And I think that was a good motivation for me.
Embedded video_content_type: Ted Ligety: Adrenaline junkie
But when I watched them in video and I'd watch myself in video, I always thought that we looked pretty similar in some respects. You know, technically, I was even better in some ways. I just hadn't figured out how to go fast. I think when I was about 18 years old, or 17 years old, I guess, is when I really figured out how to go from being good technically to being fast. And it was a big jump. I went from just barely making the U.S. Ski Team to skiing the World Cup circuit right away.
Is there a past Olympic moment which really inspired you?
When I first started ski racing, when I was 10 years old, it was the same year as the Olympics in '94 in Lillehammer. Tommy Moe won a gold medal in the downhill and a silver in the super-G, and that's really a big inspiration for me. That's when I decided that ski racing was what I really wanted to do.
Have you ever encountered an obstacle that required you to in effect restart?
I've been pretty lucky. I haven't had too many major obstacles. I've torn my MCL and PCL and had bone bruises that definitely made me have to, you know, take a step back and figure out how to get stronger again. I think that's something that's always difficult when you're used to being fully active all the time, to have to sit on the couch for a while. Then the whole rehab process is definitely something that's not that much fun, but definitely I think teaches you something about yourself.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Model Olympian: Ted Ligety
Best of Sochi