Ted Ligety, one of America’s most decorated Alpine skiers, tied for 15th place in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics men’s giant slalom. The favored Marcel Hirscher of Austria won gold, while Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway took silver and Alexis Pinturault of France took bronze.
Ligety, a 33-year-old from Park City, Utah, won gold in the 2014 Winter Olympics’s giant slalom, and gold in the super combined event in the 2006 games. The athlete skis with what The New York Times has called a self-invented style, positioning himself so low on each turn that he’s almost “sitting on the snow.”
“Ski racing is probably the least guaranteed sport out there, you know. It’s really rare — actually, oftentimes — when the favorites win,” Ligety told NPR in 2014.
This year, the favored skier did win. Hirscher crossed the line at 1:08.27 in his first run, putting him in first place before the race’s second run.
Ligety’s first run wasn’t so hot — the American put an unusual distance between his skis and the course’s markers, and finished his first run in 1:10.71. American Ryan Cochran-Siegle, 25, crossed at 1:10:75.
Hirscher held onto first place and won the event’s gold medal with a second run time of 1:09.77 and a total time of 2:18.04 — beating silver medalist Kristoffersen by over a full second.
Ligety’s second run improved at 1:10.71. He tied with Gino Caviezel of Switzerland for 15th place, with both skiers accruing a total time of 2:21.25.
Cochran-Siegle crossed his second run at 1:09.99, placing 11th overall with a total time of 2:20.74.
Giant slalom is an Alpine skiing event where athletes ski downhill between sets of poles. NPR’s Tamara Keith has quipped that the event’s goal “is to be out of control enough to go extremely fast, and in control just enough not to crash.”
“I was really surprised when I saw the time. It didn’t feel like I crushed it, but it didn’t feel 2 and a half seconds bad,” Ligety told The Associated Press.
“I just thought it would run a little bit more challenging than the way it did. … I just kind of like over-skied it and maybe thought the rolls were going to come into play a little bit more, and they were easy. No excuse,” he said, according to Bleacher Report.
Ligety told reporters after the race that Pyeongchang would likely be his last Olympic games.