The circumstances were completely different in 2006, when Park City's Ted Ligety won his first Olympic gold medal, and so was the celebration.
In Italy, Ligety stood third after the first of two slalom runs (following a downhill run) in the combined event, and had to withstand the final runs of two racers to maintain first place. The second-to-last skier failed to overtake him. So when the video screen showed final skier Benjamin Raich missing a gate and Ligety's victory was assured, U.S. teammates Steven Nyman and Scott Macartney tackled Ligety in the finish area.
That gold medal was totally unexpected. The one he earned Wednesday in the giant slalom was hardly surprising, but as Ligety said, anything in ski racing is "so far from guaranteed."
In this case, Ligety had a huge lead after the first of two GS runs and basically just had to remain upright to win, so his strongest emotion upon finishing was "relief," he said.
- Kurt Kragthorpe&n
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