Ligety and the overall giant slalom globe in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. (Mitchell Gunn/ESPA)
This past winter is one Park City local Ted Ligety will remember forever. He won three gold medals at the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, a feat last accomplished 45 years ago by Jean Claude Killy and never before by a non-European. He also snagged six World Cup wins and his best ever finish in the overall World Cup standings with third. Ligety officially returns to Park City this weekend. To mark the occasion Park City Mountain Resort will hold a free party for everyone on April 6.
The event will include:
1 p.m. – Parade of flags down lower PayDay run
1:15 p.m. – Ted Ligety introduced on stage for live Q&A with guests
1:30 p.m. – Remarks from US Ski & Snowboard Association President Bill Marolt and Park City Mayor Dana Williams
1:45 p.m. – Remarks from Ted Ligety
2–3 p.m. - Ted Ligety autograph signing at PayDay plaza
3 p.m. – Live music by Bryon Friedman on PayDay Deck at Legacy Lodge
Ligety carves up hometown powder at Park City Mountain Resort. (Park City Mountain Resort)
I chatted with Ligety in 2011, just as his ski racing career was beginning to take off. Following is an excerpt from that interview:
Q. You started ski racing in your backyard at Park City Mountain Resort at age 11. What made you want to compete rather than simply ski around with your buddies?
A. When I was 10, I watched Tommy Moe win the gold medal at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer. I knew from that moment that ski racing was what I wanted to do. Growing up in Park City made it really easy to get started. All my friends were racing, and we’d be at the hill every day after school and both days on the weekends. I joined the Park City Ski Team at 14, where my coach Rob Clayton was very encouraging and I had the belief that I could go onto the U.S. Ski Team before I was well ranked or knew it myself.
Q. You were a slalom racer first and now also ski giant slalom. Why not concentrate on just one discipline?
A. I didn’t choose GS as much as GS chose me. I’ve always wanted to be a four-event skier and started trying GS to branch out a little. And then something just clicked.
Q. What goes through your mind when you're up at the start just before your run?
A. I sometimes get nervous, which I’m okay with because I’ve found that I tend to do better if I’m a little edgy. But then about two minutes before I get in the start gate I work on clearing my mind. The race is often televised on a monitor at the race or there’s a loud speaker broadcasting results. But these things don’t really bother me. I don’t think about the other racers. I just tune it all out and calm my mind.
Q. What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
A. I hope to be still ski racing. There are plenty of very successful racers on the circuit in their 30s now. I’m also an owner of Shred Optics, the helmet, goggle and sunglasses manufacturer. That’s been a really fun side project and I hope to keep that going as well.
Melissa Fields is a Utah-based freelance writer. Her blog is utahvagabond.com.