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Beaver Creek Birds of Prey: Ligety looks for new challenges

BOP Ted Ligety DT 12-03-09
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BEAVER CREEK – American ski racer Ted Ligety is pretty good as he is now.

If he stopped his career before today’s Birds of Prey downhill at Beaver Creek at 11 a.m., he could probably sit down and look back on an excellent career.

Among his accomplishments are combined gold at 2006 Winter Olympics, two season titles in giant slalom (2008 and 2010) and five World Cup wins (all in GS), 21 total podiums and a 2009 bronze medal – yep, GS – at Worlds.



That is a career for a lot of World Cup racers. Most would have been happy with simply the Olympics in 2006.

“That was a cool accomplishment, but I didn’t accomplish all I wanted to,” Ligety said. “It wasn’t a problem as far as motivation. I don’t think it really changed my outlook.”



At 26, the Park City, Utah, native wants more. And it’s not just a GS win at Beaver Creek, to which he has come so close the last four years – a silver (2008), a bronze (2006) and two fourths (2007 and 2009).

Ligety is thinking about bigger things, and maybe, and overall title.

But he’s realistic about it. It will take some time. Though he has built some muscle mass during the offseason, Ligety’s physical stature will never be confused with that of Aksel Lund Svindal or teammate Bode Miller. Ligety is first, and foremost, a technical skier.



“I’m going to do it step-by-step,” he said. “If I’m fast at downhills, I’ll race them. If I’m not, I won’t bother with it. Obviously, I need to focus on the bread and butter which is the GS. That’s where I make my living. I can’t let that go, but I’m definitely trying to branch out into those other events.”

Step one has been improved results in super-G. He finished seventh in the discipline here in 2008, and was in the points five times last season, including a silver at Val d’Isere, France. These points have come at the expense of his slalom, but that’s one of many reasons the big overall globe is so difficult to grasp.

Ligety has been in the overall top 10 four out of the last five years. The only year he wasn’t was 2007 and he was 12th in the points. That was also the last year Ligety recorded downhill points.

The defending overall champion, Carlo Janka, won by skipping slalom as an individual discipline, opting for downhill, super-G, GS, and the super-combined. Benni Raich, second in the standings, skipped downhill aside from the super-combi, while Didier Cuche, third, like Janka, only does slaloms in a combined. Miller and Svindal got to their respective overall titles by racing all events.

Ligety seems to be charting a middle path. He’s breaking in some Head skis to improve his downhill. He understands that a full commitment to downhill isn’t possible because it’s “a four-day event,” with training runs.

“I’m still getting used to it,” Ligety said. “I’m still getting some miles on them. It takes time to get fully comfortable, going fast. … I’m looking forward to taking it step by step and taking it faster.”

He also wants to pick up his slalom. Again, this is the rub.

“I don’t think there’s a good way to balance it, to be perfectly honest,” Ligety said. “If you want to be a top-slalom skier, it’s almost impossible to be a tough-downhill skier. Very rarely do you see a guy be good at both sides.”

But it’s not out of the realm of possibility, and that would make for a really-storied career.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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