Ligety won the third of his five giant slalom titles in 2011. (ATR)
(ATR) Retiring two-time Olympic skiing champion Ted Ligety says he wants to become involved in the drive to bring the Olympic Winter Games back to Salt Lake City.
Ligety, 36, who grew up and resides in Park City, where Alpine and Freestyle ski events were contested in 2002, says those Games inspired him to become a world class ski racer. He says he would love for his three young children to witness this same experience in their backyard.
“Having the Olympics in Salt Lake in 2002 was a huge part of my inspiration as a kid and the atmosphere was awesome,” said Ligety, who was a forerunner at those Olympic races, then 17. “It was a big eye-opener for me to see the best in the world competing at their pinnacle, to see how they went about it and see how relatable it was.
“I would love to see it here again – I would have loved to have raced there while I was still at my peak, but to be able to see this happen and have my kids experience the Olympics in their hometown would be amazing.”
He says whenever he is asked which were his favorite Olympic Games, he responds Salt Lake City, even though he didn’t compete there
“They did an amazing job – it has amazing facilities that are still used and the hills are amazing for skiing,” Ligety continues. “It would be a pleasure to have the Olympics there again and I’d love to be involved in the effort to get them back there.”
Salt Lake City has been put forward as the is U.S. candidate for either the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games, although 2034 seems more plausible considering Los Angeles is hosting the Summer Games in 2028.
Ligety, a four-time Olympian, announced his retirement after 17 years on the U.S. Ski Team last week.
Ligety races on home snow in Beaver Creek, Colorado. (US Ski Team)
He planned to compete in his final race at the Cortina world championships – in his specialty, the giant slalom, on Friday, Feb. 19. However, a few days after holding a retirement news conference, Ligety passed along the unfortunate news that after waking up to severe back pain, a scan revealed his back was herniated to the point where it would be unsafe to race. He noted he’ll return to the U.S. to be with his family.
Ligety won Olympic gold medals in the Alpine Combined at the 2006 Turin Olympics, and again in his giant slalom specialty, as an overwhelming favorite at Sochi 2014.
The Utah skier also collected five world titles, five giant slalom World Cup titles, in addition to amassing 24 World Cup giant slalom victories, third behind Ingemar Stenmark (46) and Marcel Hirscher (32).
The U.S. ski racer has never been afraid to speak his mind, often voicing criticism towards FIS, particularly in 2011 when they announced a significant modification in the side-cut of skis, a dramatic equipment change that was not well received by athletes. He declared: “FIS’s tyranny has gone on long enough” and “FIS runs a dictatorship.”
Ligety also ranted when the federation imposed strict rules prohibiting athletes from displaying personal sponsors on helmets and gear.
Head CEO Eliasch for FIS President
Ligety endorses Head Group chief executive officer and chairman Johan Eliasch, who is seeking the FIS presidency. The federation’s new leader is to be elected at a scheduled FIS Congress in Portoroz, Slovenia, in May, replacing Gian-Franco Kasper.
Johan Eliasch (center) with Head ski racers in Soelden, Austria. (ATR)
Many of the world’s top ski racers, including Ligety, compete on Head Skis. Eliasch has been instrumental in building the Austrian company’s ‘Head Rebels’ racing program and has successfully lured away racers from competing manufacturers with lucrative contracts.
“He has a good vision, he’s very athlete focused, he has a good business background, he has all the things you want,” Ligety says about Eliasch, who was nominated by GB Snowsport. “I think he has a good chance of winning.”
The FIS has had only two president, both Swiss men – Kasper and Marc Hodler – for almost 70 years.
“He’s not Swiss, which is good also to change the nationality and the guard there,” Ligety says of Eliasch, a dual Swedish/U.K. citizen.
“I’ve talked to him about a bunch of different ideas,” the U.S. ski racer noted. “He is taking input from a lot of different people on how to evolve and make the sport better.
“I’m hoping he wins and I can stay involve in the sport there.”
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
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