SOCHI, Russia – Ted Ligety had just won gold, but he already was looking forward. He wants to chase gold at the 2018 Games in South Korea.
“I’m still only 29 years old,” Ligety said a few minutes after winning the giant slalom. “I definitely plan to ski through Korea.”
Ligety delivered a dominating performance on his first run, seizing a massive 0.93 lead, and his second run was strong enough to hold off silver medalist Steve Missillier of France. Alexis Pinturault of France won the bronze.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, the overall World Cup overall leader, finished fourth. He made no effort to hide his disappointment.
“The best has won today,” Hirscher said. “It is for sure disappointing and, on the other side, yeah, I'm not far away."
Hirscher and Ligety will tangle again in Saturday’s slalom. In that race, Hirscher will be the favorite.
Ligety was the favorite on Wednesday, and he admitted this added an extra burden of pressure.
“I’ve gotten better and better at handling that but it’s never easy,” Ligety said of the pressure. “You always feel that bit of anxiety and that bit of nervousness, but in a lot of ways it helps me focus. It helps push yourself to close to your limit.”
On Tuesday, female giant slalom competitors endured rain, sleet, snow and fog. On Wednesday, the men enjoyed virtually perfect conditions with strong sunlight and a fresh layer of snow.
Ligety took advantage of the conditions, especially on his first run.
After the race, Ligety used the word “awesome” multiple times.
“Yeah, today was awesome,” he said. “There’s not really any other way to put it. This is something that I’ve been working for since I was a kid. It’s real easy to go off course. So to be able to win today when I knew I had a very good chance and I knew the pressure of it, that is really an awesome feeling.”