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?
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.