Two-time Olympic Champion and giant slalom legend Ted Ligety announced on Tuesday that he plans to retire from racing after one final appearance at the Alpine World Championships. Ligety will start in the giant slalom in Cortina d’Ampezzo, scheduled for Feb. 19, before leaving his storied career behind him.
“It’s wild. I’ve been racing on the World Cup for 17 years,” Ligety told U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “I’ve always said I didn’t want to think back on my legacy or my career until I was done and now I’m super excited. I’m super proud of what I was able to do.”
Ligety has been a major player in men’s alpine racing since winning his first Olympic gold medal at the 2006 Torino Winter Games in the alpine combined event. But it was in the giant slalom event that Ligety really made a name for himself.
The five-time World Cup Giant Slalom Champion is credited with changing the way racers, especially American racers, tackle a GS course after the International Skiing Federation changed the equipment regulations for the discipline. A vocal opponent of the changes which required men to ski on longer, straighter, stiffer skis, Ligety was nevertheless one of the first to understand how to win races with the regulations in place.
WATCH: Ted Ligety and the Art of Arc
“It’s no secret I grew up trying to ski like Ted Ligety,” shared River Radamaus, Ligety’s teammate, in a video tribute filmed from the chairlift at Alpe Cimbra, Italy, European home base for the U.S. men’s alpine team. “You can see it from the way I ski …. but I think he affected the way an entire generation of skiers—particularly Americans—ski. Every kid my age was trying to emulate Ted Ligety when they were growing up. Ted seemed to simultaneously accomplish a level of dominance that seemed impossible, while also making it seem very possible for every American kid to be able to compete on the World Cup.”
While Ligety is best known for his GS talent, he’s one of the few Americans and World Cup racers to have medaled in all disciplines. He made history at the 2013 World Championships in Schladming, Austria, after winning the GS, super-G, and alpine combined, becoming the first racer since Jean Claude Killy to win gold in three or more disciplines at a single World Championship.
“I definitely achieved far more in my career than I would have ever thought as a 16 or 17-year-old kid, when my coaches were telling me I’d be a good college athlete,” Ligety told U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
Ligety, 36, is now looking forward to focusing on Shred, the goggle and helmet company he founded with Carlo Salmini in 2006, as well as his family. Ligety and his wife Mia have three sons—Jax, age 3, and 6-month-old twins Alec and Will.
“It gives you a nice perspective on life when you have these little guys running around,” Ligety told U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “Having six weeks on the road is not really manageable anymore. I think there’s a time in your life where family is more important than skiing. That time has come.”