ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Feb. 19) – Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) laid down a truly Olympic performance Wednesday to earn the first-ever giant slalom gold medal for the USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Ligety led by 0.93-seconds after his first run at the sunny Rosa Khutor venue, where he was able to become the second American in history to win two alpine gold medals after Andrea Mead Lawrence in 1952. France filled out the podium with Steve Missillier earning silver and Alexis Pinturault bronze. The historic race airs on NBC’s Primetime Olympic coverage at 8:00 p.m. EST Wednesday, and both runs can be streamed in their entirety on NBCOlympics.com. Next, World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) and the women battle for the Olympic slalom title Friday Feb. 21.
- Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) laid down a truly Olympic performance Wednesday to earn the first-ever giant slalom gold medal for the USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
- Ligety carved out a 0.93-second buffer after his first run at the sunny Rosa Khutor venue, and he was able to hold the lead through his inspired second run.
- Ligety is now the second American in history to win two alpine gold medals after Wednesay’s gold and his 2006 super combined gold. Andrea Mead Lawrence was the only other American to do so in Olso in 1952, when she won gold in slalom and giant slalom.
- France filled out the podium with Steve Missillier earning silver and Alexis Pinturault bronze.
- Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV) muscled through the challenging course to finish 15th in his very first Olympic appearance, while Jared Goldberg (Holladay, UT) skied into 19th. Sochi super G bronze medalist Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) finished 20th.
- Mostly sunny skies and grippy snow created a great race for the athletes, although a few bumps in the steeper sections added the to the course difficulty.
- The historic race airs on NBC’s Primetime Olympic coverage at 8:00 p.m. EST Wednesday, and both runs can be streamed in their entirety on NBCOlympics.com.
- Next, World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) and the women battle for the Olympic slalom title Friday Feb. 21.
Today was awesome. There’s not really any other way to put it. This is something I’ve been working for since I was a little kid. Being the favorite in alpine skiing is never easy, because it’s an event that’s so far from being guaranteed and not an event that’s super simple to win even if you’re skiing the best in the world. There are so many different factors out there. It’s really easy to go out of the course. It’s really easy for conditions to not match up to your technique. So to be able to win today when I knew that I had a very good chance and knew the pressures of it was an awesome feeling.
This one is way more meaningful than my first one. I’m not going to say my first gold medal was easy, but it came a lot easier. There was a lot less struggles of the World Cup and struggles of the grind that I hadn’t experienced up to that point. To win a gold medal now, especially having Vancouver being really tough and the Olympics so far here have been somewhat lackluster, and to be able to throw down in an event that I had the most pressure in and I was the favorite in, to be able to do that is awesome. This was really the event that I wanted to win. To be able to pull down in that kind of pressure and to be up there with some of the greats is really an honor.
It was a huge relief. I’ve been wanting to win this medal for my whole life and even more so in the last few years. All season long everybody talks about the Olympics, Olympics, Olympics…at a certain point I was 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.’ So it’s awesome to be able to come here and compete and finally do it and get the monkey off the back.
It’s asking a bit much of my left knee still on those kinds of bumps. Right in the middle, there’s a left-footed turn that just seems like crazy big bumps. I just look at it thinking maybe I could do it, but confidence-wise I don’t feel comfortable dropping it in that way and it’s cost me both runs there. This is pretty aggressive stuff for the lower leg. The snow is so grippy and kind of jerks you around nonstop. We’ll see how it feels after this and make a call.
Ted has shown for several years that he’s the best GS skier, especially when the conditions are like this, kind of rolling and high-speed. Other guys are having trouble carrying momentum the whole way down. They make some really good turns and some good sections and then they scrub a little bit over a piece of terrain. Ted just carries his speed so smooth top to bottom and he makes time the whole way down.
I feel really good about where I’m at. I came back really strong, I really did a lot of work and I put in the time. That leaves me with a really positive feeling. I really feel like I did my best. Obviously I feel like I was capable of more, but my effort and my intensity were as good as I can possibly put out there. The Olympics are a super-challenging situation because you want to come in and do everything you can, but only one guy wins. I really feel like I did what I could and I came out with a medal, so I’m happy.
I’m happier with the second run than I was with the first. In the first run I was really intense on top and really tried to send it, but it was too aggressive and I made some errors that slowed me down. On this run I tried to balance that out. So the second run was a little more balanced in terms of intensity and push. Obviously the first run is what did it. I needed to be a little bit better on the first. Between fifth place and me was only a couple tenths. It was not a lot. But that’s how it was.
It’s my first time running an Olympic event, so I was thinking about all those people that are supporting you and sending you little messages and wishing you good luck and you’re like, ‘Alright let’s do this!’ It’s a little different than a World Cup, obviously. It’s good to be here. I’m psyched for Ted. It’s really special that America wins the event.