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Park City skier Ted Ligety's sports heros include skier Alberto Tomba and the Jazz's John Stockton and Karl Malone.

Only four people in the history of Alpine skiing have done what Ted Ligety did a few weeks ago, when he won his third consecutive World Cup giant slalom race. The two-time Olympian and 2006 gold medalist returned home for the holidays last week and talked with our Amy Donaldson and other reporters about his sport and his winning streak.

Question: Do you think your success, and that of your teammates, is changing the way U.S. skiers are viewed by European athletes?

Answer: I think the Americans for the past few years, especially with Bode (Miller), Darren (Rahlves) and Erik (Schlopy), the American skiers have been getting respect for a while. We used to train with the Austrians, and they don't let us do that anymore. They know we can beat them. I guess that's respect in a way.

Question: You won the overall World Cup title in GS, but had a disappointing Olympics. What's the difference this season?

Answer: Obviously the 2010 Olympics were disappointing for me. I've always been in good shape, but last year, because of my knee injury, I couldn't work out until August and that was a big detriment. I wasn't strong as far as an aerobic sense. That's something I worked really hard to get better at.

Question: While others struggle with the giant slalom (which combines downhill and slalom in two runs), you excel. Why?

Answer: GS is the basis for all other events. It's the best even for really showing your overall skiing skills.

Question: Who are your sports heros?

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Answer: Tommy Moe, who won a gold medal in 1994, the same time I started ski racing. ... Every kid of my generation idolized (Italian Alberto) Tomba. Hermann Maier (Austrian skier) and even Bode (Miller). Away from skiing, I'm a huge Utah Jazz fan — (John) Stockton and (Karl) Malone. ... Deron Williams ... the best point guard in the NBA.

Question: What motivated you in the offseason?

Answer: I was pretty disappointed with my year. I won the overall (World Cup GS) title, but I was not skiing the way I wanted to. ... The Olympics, that was a big motivation. I worked harder than I had in the last couple of years, and I was healthy going into the fall.