Ted Ligety, Parkite who climbed to the peak of alpine ski racing, announces end to storied career
At 36, Ligety says ‘it’s time to be with my family’
Ted Ligety, perhaps Park City’s most accomplished athlete, announced his retirement from competitive skiing Tuesday morning. The 36-year-old ends his career having amassed numerous accolades, including two Olympic golds and seven World Championship medals.
Ligety shared his decision in an Instagram post Tuesday morning, where he wrote that the Cortina World Championships in Italy will be his last event.
“I’ve achieved every childhood dream of winning Olympic gold medals, World Championships golds, and World Cups,” he wrote. “But it’s time to be with my family.”
In a recent interview with Park Record columnist Tom Kelly, Ligety said the commitment it takes to compete at the highest levels of his sport — and the time it took away from his wife and three young children — no longer made sense to him.
“In order to compete and train and do what I want to do at the highest level, it’s hard to really balance that with the family,” he said. “Being on the road for six-plus weeks at a time and at multiple times a year just didn’t really make sense to continue. I’m looking for the next step and spending more time with family and ripping up the mountains with the kids and having fun with them. There are a million things that it boils down to. But that was really the main motivation.”
Ligety, who was born in Salt Lake City and grew up in Park City, attended the Winter Sports School before making his World Cup debut in 2003 at age 19 and joining the U.S. Ski Team full time in 2005. His career achievements are numerous: four Olympic appearances and two golds, a surprise victory in the combined event at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, and the other in his signature event — giant slalom — at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia; five World Championship gold medals and two bronzes; and 25 World Cup golds in 16 seasons.
Ligety is one of only a handful of skiers to make the World Cup podium in each of the five alpine disciplines — slalom, giant slalom, super giant slalom, downhill and combined.
Ligety pointed to his time as a member of Park City Ski & Snowboard when he was growing up as helping him develop into the skier he would become.
“Most of my best friends were all amazing ski racers at the time,” he told Kelly. “We had a tight-knit group of friends that already really push each other, and great coaches.”
Kelly, a longtime spokesperson for U.S. Ski & Snowboard and a member of its Hall of Fame, has known Ligety since he was 18. He said Ligety’s qualities as a person are what made him such a successful skier.
“His parents provided him the opportunity, but taught him to be independent,” Kelly said. “Ted was never afraid to plot his own course, carefully taking counsel from others and forging his own path. When you meet him you feel he is genuine and authentic. He’s a remarkable role model.”
Kelly said he thinks that independent streak will be his legacy.
“Ted will be remembered for his independent approach to his sport, calculating a pathway for his own success but also ensuring that he left a legacy for the next generation of ski racers and for his sport as a whole,” he said.
Ligety said his advice for young skiers is simple.
“You have to own your own path.”
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