Ted Ligety could be the most likely among U.S. ski racers to bring home more than one medal from the Winter Olympics next February. The versatile reigning world-champion in three events plans to compete in the Olympic super G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined. Hoping to bring home more golden hardware from Sochi, the 2006 Olympic gold-medalist in the combined talked about his career and the mental side of his winning formula.
You grew up in Park City, Utah. What was it like growing up in the heart of the U.S. Ski Team and then realizing that dream?
Yes, I grew up in Park City and started skiing when I was about 2-years-old. I don’t really remember it, but my parents tell me that I didn’t really love it that much at the very beginning. I was screaming down the hill. In a way, it became my babysitter. My parents would drop my brother and I off to go skiing all day and pick us up at the end of the day. It was a pretty fun way to fall in love with the mountain.
What age were you when you thought, “I want to get serious about this”?
I started ski racing when I was 10-years-old. Tommy Moe won the gold medal in the 1994 Olympics in the downhill during my first year of ski racing so that was inspirational.
I guess I really started taking it seriously when I was 13 or 14. I started going to Winter Sports School in Park City which is a private sports academy that has the school-year from April to November, so I had all winter off to go skiing. That’s why I was able to focus totally on ski racing.
You mentioned Tommy Moe. Who have been your role models in your sport and other athletes through the years?
One of my favorite athletes outside of the ski world is Rafa Nadal. He plays tennis differently than anybody else and he’s able to come back from small defeats. I grew up as a Utah Jazz fan watching (John) Stockton and (Karl) Malone. I was lucky enough to have the World Cup in Park City growing up, so I was able to watch guys like Tommy Moe, Lasse Kjus and guys like that.
When you’re racing, what is going through your mind on the course during a speed event such as downhill versus a technical event such as slalom?
The mental side of downhill and slalom is pretty much the exact same. I actually try to ski on the course with just pure instincts. Especially in super G and downhill, I have the course memorized. I go through my game plan before and when I’m actually on the hill I’m just trying to react and go faster whether it’s slalom or downhill. That’s been something that has been pretty successful for me.
What is your endorsement relationship with Vicks and also generally regarding corporate interest in ski racing and athletes like you, how has that been through your career?
I feel lucky to be working with a brand like Vicks, because it’s actually a product I’ve used for a while. I’m in the cold all day long training and racing, so it’s pretty easy to catch a cold in the wintertime. It’s important for me to get back out there and be strong the next day despite that. I think Vicks Nyquil and Dayquil have helped me through that.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with a couple of other big Olympic sponsors as well like Coke and Citigroup. Media and sponsorship-wise, this is definitely the biggest point of my career so far.
- Favorite mountain? Park City Mountain Resort, I know all the secret spots.
- Favorite songs? I listen to a lot of alt-rock. My favorite band is Broken Bells.
- Most fun person you have skied with? Marcus Caston, a big-mountain skier. We skied in Alaska together and he’s a pretty awesome skier.
- Favorite ski movie? Blizzard of Aahhh’s or one of the old classics
- Go-to breakfast before day on the slopes? Frosted mini-wheats and yogurt
- Favorite race venue? Kitzbuehel. There’s tons of crowd and cool atmosphere.
- Favorite thing to do for fun outside skiing? Mountain Biking
- Guiltiest indulgence? Eating lots of ice cream
- Weirdest thing you’ve seen from a chairlift? I’ve seen people ski naked before actually.