Philip Hersh: World gold burnishing Ligety's place in U.S. ski annals
Ted Ligety joined a select club Friday.
He now is one of only a half-dozen U.S. alpine skiers to have won gold medals at both the Olympics and World Championships.
Ligety's victory in the giant slalom at the 2011 worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, added his name to a list that includes Bode Miller, Phil Mahre, Lindsey Vonn, Picabo Street and Barbara Cochran.
(Technically, Gretchen Fraser and Andrea Mead Lawrence were doublers as well, but they earned both in one fell swoop, when Olympic medals also counted as world medals.)
Ligety's Olympic triumph came in the combined at the 2006 Winter Games.
He was more impressed by the world title because it came at a point when he had a reputation of success to defend.
I wrote last month how Ligety has been quietly been putting together one of the more impressive records in U.S. ski history, including the 2008 and 2010 World Cup season titles in giant slalom and a bronze medal at the 2009 worlds in the event. To read that story, click here.
"The Olympic gold medal in combined and winning a world championship are very different,'' Ligety said Friday. "The Olympics are bigger and I was the surprise victor in that event, so I didn't have the pressure on me to perform.
"But being able to perform when you're supposed to win is far more difficult than just putting it on the line like I did at the  Olympics. To be able to put down two good runs and win is that much more special."
-- Philip Hersh
Photo: Ted Ligety' Credit: Odd Andersen / Getty Images