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(KRASNAYA POLYANA, RUSSIA - JANUARY 14: Park City's Ted Ligety reacts after competing in the men's Super Combined Slalom at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center during the 2014 Sochi Olympics Friday February 14, 2014. Ligety finished in 12th place with a time of 2:47.39. (Photo by Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune) )
Olympics: Ted Ligety confident entering giant slalom
First Published Feb 18 2014 12:36 am • Last Updated Feb 25 2014 04:47 pm

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia • Steven Holcomb did it, winning at the Sochi Olympics the one thing that had eluded him during a long career. Fellow Utahn Noelle Pikus-Pace did it, too.

Now it’s Ted Ligety’s turn.

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The Park City ski racer takes aim Wednesday at the giant slalom — his signature event and his last strong chance to win a medal after disappointing finishes in the super-combined and super-G on the slopes at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.

"I’m feeling good about my GS," he said.

He should.

Ligety has been the world’s foremost giant-slalom skier for years, though Olympic gold has eluded him. He did not finish the first run at the 2006 Turin Games, where he won unexpected gold in the combined as an unknown 21-year-old Olympic debutante.

He finished ninth four years later in Vancouver.

Along the way, though, Ligety has won everything in sight. He has 20 World Cup victories in giant slalom as well as four overall World Cup titles in the discipline and two world championships — one of them part of a triple gold-medal performance last year in Schladming, Austria.

Like Holcomb in two-man bobsled and Pikus-Pace in the skeleton, an Olympic medal is the only thing that eludes him.

Ligety remains the odds-on favorite despite his poor showings in his previous races here. He skied too cautiously in the slalom portion of the super-combined and finished 12th, then made a mistake while skiing hard and fast in the super-G and wound up 14th. He’d won both events at the world championships last year.

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"Every event is totally different," he said. "It’s not like those [results] matter that much. I’m just going to push hard on my race on Wednesday. I know where my skiing can be. This season, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in other races and results but still been able to put together really fast runs in giant slalom."

No kidding.

Ligety was thrashing rivals last season, winning one race by 2.75 seconds — the largest margin in a World Cup giant slalom in 33 years. He won on the old skis, before the international ski federation mandated longer and straighter ones that make it harder to turn, and he has won on the new ones.

He also won the last giant slalom before the Olympics, in St. Moritz, Switzerland, far ahead of top rivals Marcel Hirscher of Austria and Alexis Pinturault of France — both of whom lead him in the World Cup standings this season. Hirscher told reporters that he has "no chance" against Ligety, however.

"He’s just a brilliant skier, what else can I tell you?" Hirscher said. "Ted is a really fair sportsman and he helps the whole ski racing scene, to push us up to another level in giant slalom skiing."

After the super-G, Ligety said he won’t carry the disappointment of his previous races into the giant slalom.

"I felt good about my skiing before this, and my skiing today was good," he said. "So I’ll have good confidence coming into that."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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