By Steve Ginsburg
WHISTLER (Reuters) - U.S. skier Ted Ligety welcomes the burden of trying to repeat his stunning triumph in the Turin Olympics four years ago.
"This time around I'm definitely considered more of a threat than I was back then so that's exciting," he said. "There's more pressure, but I guess that's a good thing."
"I'm excited. I like my chances here."
Ligety surprisingly struck gold in the combined in Turin and although this time the event features just one slalom run alongside a downhill and is labeled a 'super combined', he will still be among those favored.
The American says "it's fun" to have a target on his back for the Vancouver Games, which open on Friday.
"This one would be even more special to win because the first one came so quickly in my career," Ligety told Reuters on Wednesday. "It certainly wasn't easy but it was so unexpected.
"This time, I've had some injuries. I've also had some ups and downs. To win now would be more meaningful because I've been on the tour so much longer."
Ligety admits he has a better chance of landing on the podium for the giant slalom than the super combined.
U.S. men's team coach Sasha Rearick said Ligety will enjoy the stress of trying to duplicate his Olympic success in the Italian Alps in 2006.
"Ted thrives on pressure," he said. "He's a competitor and he hates to lose. He loves that situation. He's done everything he can do to prepare for this.
"He's worked hard in the gym. He didn't ski until late because he was injured early in the season. Still he was busting his butt. You'll see, he's skiing very well."
"The giant slalom and the slalom are relatively easy hills compared to what we're used to," said Ligety, one of just 42 racers to complete Wednesday's downhill training run before a dense fog covered the 1,678-meter-high piste in the Canadian Rockies.
Regardless of how he fares in Vancouver, Ligety's ambition remains the same.
"I still have plenty of time to get there."
(Editing by Miles Evans)