Pin it Ted Ligety
“I love being out on the mountains with the fresh air, with my friends, and scaring myself a little bit.”

Career highlights

Title

2006

Subtitle

Ligety Wins Olympic Gold

Title

2008

Subtitle

Ligety Scores His First World Cup Title

Title

2010

Subtitle

Disappointment at the Vancouver Olympics
Complete Timeline
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Ted Ligety

Career highlights

Title

2006

Subtitle

Ligety Wins Olympic Gold
Although Ted didn't finish in the men's giant slalom or slalom, he scored a clean run in the men's combined event and took home the gold.

Title

2008

Subtitle

Ligety Scores His First World Cup Title
In 2008, Ligety wins his first World Cup title in the giant slalom, setting off a four-season World Cup-winning streak (he wins again in 2010, 2011, and 2013).

Title

2010

Subtitle

Disappointment at the Vancouver Olympics
At his second Olympics experience, Ligety just misses the podium, coming in fifth in the men's combined event.

Title

2011

Subtitle

Ligety Becomes a World Champion
After the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in which Ligety placed third in the giant slalom, Ligety ups his game and returns in 2011. It works: This time, he takes gold in giant slalom.

Title

2013

Subtitle

Ligety Defends His World Championship
Not only does Ligety successfully take gold in the giant slalom at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships for a second time, but he also becomes the fifth man in history and the first in 45 years to win three or more gold medals at one World Championships by winning gold in giant slalom, Super-G, and combined (the last skier to do so was Jean-Claude Killy in 1968). In total, he's won five medals at World Championships, four of them gold, one bronze.

It’s not news when alpine skier Ted Ligety takes first place; it’s news when he doesn’t.

Ligety began skiing at age 2, and now, at 29, he’s one of the most experienced, skilled skiers in the world, with the resume to match: He was the 2006 gold medalist in the combined downhill event (the fourth American man to win) at the Olympic Games in Torino, and he’s taken home four World Cup championships in the giant slalom event.

At the 2013 World Championships, Ligety became the fifth man in history to have won more than three gold medals at one World Championships—and the first in 45 years to do so.

“Think of all the great skiers—Hermann Maier, Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Bode Miller—who could not do it in the last 45 years,” U.S. Ski Team coach Sasha Rearick told the New York Times. “But Ted found a way to get past them anyway.”

He’s also won six National Championships—putting him just three wins behind the current record of nine held by Bode Miller.

So the fact that for the first time in five years, Ligety didn’t make the finals of a World Cup giant slalom race this winter in Val d’lsere, France, is raising some eyebrows. After making a rare technical mistake, Ligety literally veered off course—something he’s never done before—and failed to complete the event and qualify for the final round of the competition. The last time Ligety experienced such a disappointing finish was at the 2009 World Cup Championships.

Still, Ligety’s not worried about Sochi. The two-time Olympian thrives on competition, he says, and he’s not slowing down or letting up on his training before heading to Russia.

“I’m naturally psyched by the pressure of a big event—I am super competitive, so it’s easy for me to get up and want to compete,” Ligety told SHAPE.

Even his competitors wonder if a race really counts when Ligety’s not in it. “I’m happy to see that Ted is human and beatable,” Marcel Hirscher, giant slalom winner, told ESPN after the World Cup championship in December.

No doubt about it—Ligety is good at what he does. But that wasn’t always the case.  “When I was 16, I would watch all my friends starting to break through in skiing,” he says in a video interview with Procter & Gamble for their annual Thank You, Mom campaign. “I was pretty close to them technique-wise, but I’d lose races by a lot, and I kept coming in 25th or 26th place, you know, way, way back.”

Ligety credits his parents for helping him fight his way to the top. “My parents have played a huge role in my success—they allowed me to race and to take ownership of the sport, and I learned a lot from their hard work,” he says.

Part of his skiing success might also stem from his innate thrill-seeking. The self-described adrenaline junkie admits: “I like to try to scare myself.” 

Because alpine skiers compete on a world cup circuit from October to March, Ligety will be racing every weekend until the Olympics.  “I think it’s a good way to sharpen your skills and get mentally focused,” he says. “If you come in to the Olympics having not raced in awhile, it’s hard to be ready to compete at your highest level.”  —Alanna Nuñez

Featured video

Ted Ligety: "Playing Forward"
What does it take to become an Olympian? Hit the slopes with Ted Ligety to find out

Trivia

Passion Project
Ted co-founded Shred Optics, a company that designs skiing goggles, helmets, and sunglasses.
Family Traditions
“I spend every Christmas with my family skiing, which is nice, because I don’t get the chance to be at home very often.”
Favorite Movie
The Big Lebowski
Culinary specialties
"I love to cook, especially anything barbecue, and jalapeño mashed potatoes,” he says.