Theodore Sharp "Ted" Ligety (born August 31, 1984) is an American alpine ski racer, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and an entrepreneur, having cofounded Shred Optics. Ligety won the combined event at the 2006 Olympics in Turin and the giant slalom race at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. He is also a five-time World Cup champion in giant slalom (2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014). Ligety won the gold medal in the giant slalom at the 2011 World Championships. He successfully defended his world title in giant slalom in 2013 in Schladming, Austria, where he also won an unexpected gold medal in the super-G and a third gold medal in the super combined. Through October, 2015, he has 25 victories (24 in giant slalom and 1 super combined) and 51 podiums in World Cup competition.
His Olympic giant slalom gold medal, 24 GS World Cup wins, 3 GS world championship gold medals and 5 World Cup titles make him one of the greatest giant slalom skiers of all time.
Early life and career
Ligety was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, the son of Cyndi Sharp and Bill Ligety, who are real estate agents. He grew up in Park City and began skiing at two and racing at ten. He attended The Winter Sports School and graduated in 2002. Ligety was named to the U.S. Skiing Development Team and won a silver medal in slalom in the Junior World Championships in 2004. He made his first start in a World Cup event during the 2004 World Cup season in the giant slalom at Park City. In the summer of 2004, Ligety and U.S. Ski Team head coach Sasha Rearick studied Fu Style Tai Chi. The next winter in the 2005 season, Ligety was added to the U.S. Ski Team full-time, during which he had four top-15 finishes in slalom, placing 24th overall in the discipline.
Ligety recorded his first World Cup podium finish in the first slalom of the season, at Beaver Creek in December, and followed that up with a second and a third during the next three slaloms. Ligety's first major victory of his professional career came at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, held at Sestriere. Ligety won the gold medal in the men's combined event, a major upset after the two racers favored to win the event failed to finish the slalom portion. At age 21, he became the first American man to win an Olympic gold medal in alpine skiing in a dozen years, since Tommy Moe won the downhill at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. Ligety also became just the fourth American male skier to win Olympic gold, along with Moe, Phil Mahre (slalom, 1984) and Bill Johnson (downhill, 1984). At Turin, Ligety also participated in the giant slalom and the slalom, but he failed to complete either event. Following his Olympic victory in the combined, Ligety recorded his first World Cup victory, a win in the giant slalom in Yongpyeong, South Korea. He finished ninth in the overall World Cup standings for the year, marking the first time that three American men had placed in the top 10 (along with Bode Miller in third and Daron Rahlves in fourth), despite the fact that he did not compete in downhill or super-G that year. - It was a little surprise that Ted Ligety's first win was in a giant slalom because he wasn't known as a good giant slalom racer (he had only placed in the top ten in one race before, being 8th at Sölden on October 23, 2005 - and he had bib-number 18, a number which is behind the top fifteen of the world; at that time he was far better in the slalom by finishing 3rd at Beaver Creek on December, 4th, and also at Kranjska Gora on December 2005, and indeed finishing second at Adelboden on January 8). On that March 5, he was only 8th-placed after the first leg (with a deficite of 1.13 sec. behind leading Davide Simoncelli but he was able to overtake all elite racers in the second leg). - It took long until he could achieve a second win (Kranjska Gora on March 8, 2008). There is an additional note: A day before his first win there also was carried out a giant slalom at Yongpyong but he did miss; beset with jetleg, he didn't wake up in time.
In the summer of 2006, Ligety changed his ski supplier from Völkl to Rossignol. With Rahlves' retirement, Ligety began to compete in all five events. However, he managed only two podium finishes during the season, a second in slalom and a third in giant slalom. Disappointingly, he had three fourth-place finishes, one in giant slalom, one in super combined, and one in the World Cup finals downhill, as well as a fourth-place finish in the giant slalom at the 2007 World Championships in Åre, Sweden, missing a medal by 0.07 seconds. He finished eleventh overall in 2007.
Ligety won his first World Cup season title in the giant slalom in 2008, and finished fifth in the overall standings. He won the final two giant slaloms of the year at Kranjska Gora and Bormio to edge out two-time defending champion Benjamin Raich of Austria for the season title. He also recorded four other podium finishes: a second and a third in giant slalom and two third places in slalom. In addition to his title, Ligety ranked seventh in combined and ninth in slalom. When the last giant slalom race was started on March 14, Ligety was ahead to Raich with a margin of 27 points, but in that actual race he was only seventh-placed after the first leg while Raich was second-placed. But Ligety did do a phenomenal best time in the second leg, becoming first ahead to Raich.
Ligety opened defense of his 2008 giant slalom title with a third-place finish in Sölden, Austria, and then placed second at Beaver Creek, Colorado. At the 2009 World Championships in Val d'Isère, France, Ligety took the bronze medal in the giant slalom, then won his fourth World Cup race at Kranjska Gora. He finished the season with another second at the finals in Åre, Sweden, which left him ranked third in GS and ninth overall for the season. Taking the bronze medal on February 13 (and starting with bib number 1) he had to strain because he was only ninth-placed (with a deficite of 1.71 sec. to leading - and at last being victourious - Carlo Janka) after the first leg. But - likewise in other racers - he was clocked with the quickest time in the second leg, he went in lead und remained there until Benjamin Raich who did overtake him with a margin of 0.28 sec. (Janka was unbeatable on that afternoon, he finished 0.71 sec. ahead to Raich.)
Ligety notched his fifth World Cup victory in January, his third win at Kranjska Gora in as many seasons. At the finals in Garmisch, Germany, he finished on the podium to secure his second season title in giant slalom, and finished seventh in the overall standings.
At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics at Whistler, he finished ninth in the giant slalom (on February 23 - he was eighth-placed after the first leg, 0.60 sec. behind leading Carlo Janka, but he couldn't do better in the second leg) and fifth in the super combined on February 21; he was fifteenth in the downhill portion and first in the one slalom run to finish a half-second out of the medals. - In the "Special Slalom" race (held on February 27; he had bib number 16), only a brief time did elapse when he came out of the course in the first leg.
After racing for four seasons on Rossignol skis, Ligety switched his equipment supplier to Head in the summer of 2010, as fellow American champions Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller did in previous seasons. Ligety won his sixth World Cup race in December 2010, his first win on home snow in the U.S., taking the giant slalom by a substantial 0.82 seconds at Beaver Creek, Colorado, the site of his first podium five years earlier. It was the first World Cup victory in the U.S. (and North America) by an American male in four years; the last was by Bode Miller in the downhill at Beaver Creek in December 2006. Six days later, Ligety won the next GS race in Val d'Isère, France, by over a full second. He won his third consecutive GS race at Alta Badia, Italy, the following week.
In February he won his first world championship, taking gold in the giant slalom at the 2011 World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Fourth after the first run, Ligety won by 0.08 seconds over Cyprien Richard of France. He won his third season title in giant slalom in 2011.
Even though Ligety was able to win three giant slalom races during the season, he was dethroned as the discipline champion by an overall champion Marcel Hirscher from Austria. Before the last giant slalom race which was held on March 17 at Schladming, Hirscher was in lead with 605 points ahead to Ted with 513 points. Therefore, Ted was forced to attack as powerful as he was able to do but he did fall in the first leg; he did continue but he finished on the 29th place (it was the last place), he had a deficite of 11.16 seconds to leading (it was not Hirscher, who was second) Hannes Reichelt. But Ted had lost; his only rehabilitation was that he could achieve the quickest time in the second leg, and finishing 25th (with a deficite of 10.03 seconds to Hirscher, who was victorious at last - but not gaining any point because in the final races there are only the best 15 can gain points).
Ligety was very skeptical of the new FIS rules for the giant slalom, and cited David Dodge. Dodge stated that it was well known that if one tipped the new ski 7° more it would have the same turning radius than the old 27m ski. The greater knee angulation would then increase the risk of injury. Doubts if the new rules would affect his level of skiing didn't last long as Ligety won the first race of the season in Soelden by a huge margin of 2.75 seconds over Manfred Moelgg who finished second. The season turned out to be the best in Ligety's career as he finished on podium in all eight giant slalom races of the season and winning six of them. That feat helped him to regain the discipline title. In overall standings Ligety finished on the career best 3rd place.
Ligety made his season even more impressive by winning three gold medals at the World Championships in Schladming. The first gold he won surprisingly in super-G race which was his first victory in the discipline in an international level. Ligety then won also the super combined event and successfully defended his title in the giant slalom. It was the first time in 45 years that one male skier won three gold medals in one championships.
Ligety won three giant slalom races prior to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. On January 17, Ligety gained his 20th World Cup victory with a win in the super combined event in Wengen, his first (and only) World Cup win outside the giant slalom discipline.
Entering the Olympics, Ligety was considered a favorite to medal in three disciplines, but he finished 12th in the super combined and 14th in the super-G. While under pressure as a big favorite to win a gold in the giant slalom, Ligety began his first run with an attacking attitude and established a 0.93 second lead. He skied carefully on the second run to secure the first-ever gold medal for an American man in the discipline. Ligety became the first male American ski racer in history to win two Olympic gold medals in his career.
After the Olympics, Ligety won the giant slalom in Kranjska Gora for a record sixth time. At the season finals in Lenzerheide he surprisingly finished second, tied with Christof Innerhofer, in the downhill race. The result was his first ever podium in downhill and made him only the second American skier in history, after Bode Miller, to podium in all five alpine skiing disciplines. Ligety then finished fifth in the final super-G race. Before the last giant slalom race of the season Ligety was trailing Marcel Hirscher by 50 points for the discipline title. However, Ligety won the race on March 15 with a 0,03 second advantage over Alexis Pinturault and with Hirscher finishing fourth, both skiers ended the season tied with 560 points. The Crystal Globe was however awarded to Ligety who won due to having five discipline victories during the season compared to Hirscher's two. This was the fifth giant slalom title in Ligety's career. - Hirscher lost the title in that last giant slalom race with a deficit of 0.01 seconds to the 3rd place (achieved by Felix Neureuther) which is awarded 60 points, therefore 10 points more than fourth place.
The 2015 FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup season was less successful for Ligety as he was able to win just one race and finished third in the giant slalom standings and eleventh overall. At the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2015 held in Beaver Creek, Ligety finished third in the super combined event despite being ranked 29th after the downhill leg. In the giant slalom, placed fifth after the first run and trailing by 0.24 to then leading favorite Marcel Hirscher, Ligety skied impressively in the second run, to finish 0.45 ahead of Hirscher and secure his third consecutive world title in the discipline.
Ligety won the season's first race, a giant slalom on October 25, 2015, at Sölden, Austria. While training on January 27 at Oberjoch, Germany, he tore the ACL in his right knee, which required surgery and ended his 2016 season.
Ligety returned to World Cup racing in October 2016, competing in the prelude (giant slalom) race at Sölden on October 23 (finishing 5th), and he finished 11th in the giant slalom on December 4 at Val d'Isère. He was not able to finish the following two giant slalom races due to back pain, and subsequently returned to the United States. On January 17, Ligety announced he would have season-ending back surgery.
Ligety returned to the World Cup racing late in 2017, competing in the Super G at Lake Louise on November 26 (DNF), and finishing seventh in the giant slalom on December 3, 2017 at Beaver Creek. He went on to compete at the FIS World Cup events in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Wengen, Adelboden, Alta Badia, and Val d`Isere.
Ligety was named to the US Olympic team on January 6, 2018 to compete in the combined, Super G, giant slalom, and slalom race at the PyeongChang Olympics. He came in fifth in the men's combined event, but following a disappointing finish in the giant slalom, he decided to skip the slalom event and leave the South Korea early to focus on the World Cup.
Following his Olympic gold medal at Turin, he started Shred Optics in 2006; Ligety designs all the products and uses them himself. The company produces ski goggles, sunglasses, and helmets.
Ligety served as the Director of Skiing for the now-bankrupt Mt. Holly Club, a private luxury ski and golf resort in southwestern Utah. It is located in eastern Beaver County, on the site of the former Elk Meadows ski area (1971–84).
World Cup results
- 5 titles – 5 Giant slalom + 1 Combined unofficial
- Standings through 30 January 2018
Although a GS specialist, Ligety is among the few alpine ski racers to have a World Cup podium finish in all five disciplines. Both in 2013 and 2014, he was the racer with the most victories that season and among the top three with the most podiums.
- 25 wins – (24 GS, 1 SC)
- 52 podiums – (1 DH, 2 SG, 41 GS, 6 SL, 2 SC)
|2006||Mar 5, 2006||Yongpyong, South Korea||Giant slalom|
|2008||Mar 8, 2008||Kranjska Gora, Slovenia||Giant slalom|
|Mar 14, 2008||Bormio, Italy||Giant slalom|
|2009||Feb 28, 2009||Kranjska Gora, Slovenia||Giant slalom|
|2010||Jan 29, 2010||Giant slalom|
|2011||Dec 5, 2010||Beaver Creek, United States||Giant slalom|
|Dec 11, 2010||Val d'Isère, France||Giant slalom|
|Dec 19, 2010||Alta Badia, Italy||Giant slalom|
|2012||Oct 23, 2011||Sölden, Austria||Giant slalom|
|Dec 6, 2011||Beaver Creek, United States||Giant slalom|
|Mar 10, 2012||Kranjska Gora, Slovenia||Giant slalom|
|2013||Oct 28, 2012||Sölden, Austria||Giant slalom|
|Dec 2, 2012||Beaver Creek, United States||Giant slalom|
|Dec 16, 2012||Alta Badia, Italy||Giant slalom|
|Jan 12, 2013||Adelboden, Switzerland||Giant slalom|
|Mar 9, 2013||Kranjska Gora, Slovenia||Giant slalom|
|Mar 16, 2013||Lenzerheide, Switzerland||Giant slalom|
|2014||Oct 27, 2013||Sölden, Austria||Giant slalom|
|Dec 8, 2013||Beaver Creek, United States||Giant slalom|
|Jan 17, 2014||Wengen, Switzerland||Super combined|
|Feb 2, 2014||St Moritz, Switzerland||Giant slalom|
|Mar 8, 2014||Kranjska Gora, Slovenia||Giant slalom|
|Mar 15, 2014||Lenzerheide, Switzerland||Giant slalom|
|2015||Dec 7, 2014||Beaver Creek, United States||Giant slalom|
|2016||Oct 25, 2015||Sölden, Austria||Giant slalom|
World Championships results
Through 2013, Ligety has won five medals in the World Championships, four of them gold. He won three of them in giant slalom, after a bronze medal in 2009 in Val d'Isère behind Carlo Janka and Benjamin Raich he won the GS world title in 2011 besting Cyprien Richard and Philipp Schörghofer. Ligety repeated as world champion in GS in 2013, ahead of Marcel Hirscher and Manfred Mölgg. At Schladming in 2013, he became a triple world champion in giant slalom, super-G, and combined at Planai.
Ligety became the fifth man in history to win three or more gold medals at one world championships and the first in 45 years, when Jean-Claude Killy won four in 1968 at Chamrousse, with the combined as a "paper race." Ligety is the first racer of either gender to win the super-G, giant slalom, and combined at one world championships.
Through a Citi charitable program, Ligety supports Youth Enrichment Services, an organization located in Boston founded in 1968, that takes urban youth to the mountains and teaches them how to ski and snowboard.
- YouTube.com – victory at Kranjska Gora (1.61 sec) – from Universal Sports – March 10, 2012
- YouTube.com – victory at Sölden (2.75 sec) – from Universal Sports – October 28, 2012
- YouTube.com – victory at Adelboden (1.15 sec) – from Universal Sports – January 12, 2013
- Bostock, Mike; Alexandra Garcia; Joe Ward; George Knowles. "Giant Slalom". New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2014.Audiovisual presentation of Ligety's style in the super-G.