Ligety may be on course for big things in Sochi

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) - Ted Ligety goes by many a nickname these days - from “Teddy Ball Game” for his cool under pressure, to “Shred” for his ability to carve up a course and lately to “Mr. GS,” which his rivals dubbed him for his domination in the giant slalom.

Whatever they call him, the U.S. skier is one of the world’s best and the cameras will be zoomed in tight on him at the Sochi Games next month.

Not that Ligety particularly wants all that attention.

He’s more of your mellow, ‘surfer dude’ type who considers any day he can’t at least swoosh through waist-deep powder a wasted opportunity.

Ligety quickly dismisses the notion that all eyes will be on him in Russia with a casual wave of a hand.

He’s all about speed, not the spotlight.

“I don’t do ski racing to be famous,” said Ligety, who won gold at the 2006 Turin Games in the combined only to miss out on a medal four years later in Vancouver, finishing no higher than fifth. “I do this because I love it. This is fun.”

Ligety has the resume, the talent, the charisma to be as big of name in the sport as, say, Lindsey Vonn, who’s sitting out these Olympics after recently undergoing knee surgery. But cover shots on trendy magazines hold no appeal for the 29-year-old from Park City, Utah. And walking the red carpet at an extravagant event isn’t exactly Ligety’s thing.

No, he’s all skiing, all the time.

Ted’s focused on what he needs to do to not lose. He’s amazing that way,” U.S. men’s coach Sasha Rearick said. “He’s so professional in everything he does, in terms of getting up in the morning, warming up, making sure his service guys have the perfect setup, training his butt off, coming off the hill and talking to the service guys - ‘OK, this is what we have to adjust’ - getting in on the bike to recover, eating the right foods.

“He does all those things in such a professional way.”

That’s why he’s earned the moniker “Mr. GS” among his peers, a label Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, the reigning World Cup overall champion, gave to him.

Bestowed with good reason, too.

For a while there, Ligety was almost unbeatable in the giant slalom. He had a stretch where he captured four straight World Cup giant slalom races dating back to last season, the first to accomplish that since Italy’s Alberto Tomba in 1991. The streak was halted on Dec. 14 in Val d’Isere, France, when Ligety didn’t finish the first run.

“I feel very confident in my skiing,” Ligety said. “I know I have a good chance to win any race I start.”

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