Ted Ligety has etched his name in the pantheon of ski greats after sealing a third men’s gold at the World Ski Championships, a feat last achieved by Jean-Claude Killy in 1968.
Not taking anything away from French icon Killy, skiing has come a long way since the 1960s, and for a skier nowadays to dominate multiple events is a rare feat given technical advancements that invariably accentuate specialisation in either the speed or technical events.
In Schladming, Ligety shocked the field to claim super-G gold before turning on the after-burners in the slalom to scoop the super-combined title.
He admitted he placed more worth on the giant slalom, a discipline in which he was defending champion from the 2011 worlds.
Ligety proceeded to dominate Friday’s GS, scorching to a massive first-run lead of 1.30sec and holding his nerve in the second run to finish 0.81sec ahead of Austrian tyro Marcel Hirscher.
The American will go up against Hirscher again in Sunday’s championship-ending slalom race, showing his incredible ability to perform on the world stage as a genuine all-rounder.
His GS victory sealed him a place among skiers who have won three or more golds at a world championships, alongside Killy (three golds, 1968), Austrian Toni Sailer (four, 1956 and three, 1958), France’s Emile Allais (three, 1937), and Norway’s Stein Eriksen (three, 1954).
It was also a fourth individual gold medal to equal the absent Bode Miller’s US record, and saw the US team regain their place on top of the medals table.
Miller has not skied this season as he recovers from a knee operation, but with his star billing definitely on the wane, his absence was not the highest profile or keenest felt by the US team.
That came in the form of speed queen Lindsey Vonn, who was a stand-out favourite for double gold herself.
But her name has hardly been mentioned since she sustained season-ending injuries in a horror crash in the women’s opening super-G, Ligety instead lapping up all the gold-tinted attention he has deservedly garnered.
Mancuso and Ligety’s teammate Stacey Cook added: “Holy Smokes Ted Ligety!!!! Even more impressive is that his 3 golds span all 4 alpine disciplines. SG gold, GS gold, Kombi (SL & DH) gold. That is domination….”
Hirscher, who only competes in the slalom and giant slalom, whipped off his bobble hat in his post-giant slalom press conference, saying: “I take my hat off to Ted.”
Slovenia’s Tina Maze, the winner of the women’s super-G, tweeted: “Compliments @tedligety! Inspiration to watch in GS!”
Other skiers were also full of praise for Ligety, France’s Cyprien Richard dubbing the American the “king of the world champs”.
Ligety now has the chance to match Sailer’s four-gold showing in 1956 in the slalom.