2006 gold medalist Ligety 'wouldn't mind racing'

WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Ted Ligety is tired of waiting around.

Tired of all the weather-related delays at the Vancouver Games.

Tired of hanging out at the place outside the Olympic Village that he's sharing with Bode Miller and other members of the U.S. Ski Team. Not that he isn't having fun there, mind you. The spirited games of Wii tennis are a blast, even if Ligety says he's "awful."

It's just that he'd rather be settling into a starting gate.

"Being in the condos," Ligety pointed out, "doesn't actually feel like you're at the Olympics."

In sum, the skier nicknamed "Shred" is rather tired of killing time until his Olympics get going and he gets the chance to bid for a medal to hang alongside the gold he surprisingly won in 2006.

The 25-year-old from Park City, Utah, expressed a sentiment certainly shared by many an Alpine athlete when he tweeted Tuesday: "Wouldn't mind racing already."

Ligety didn't participate in Monday's downhill, the only one of five Olympic events he'll bypass, because he raced in just one World Cup downhill event this season.

So Ligety was supposed to get his Winter Games under way Tuesday in the super-combined, but that was postponed because of an overnight snowstorm. Instead, Ligety must keep on waiting, all the way until Friday, when — weather permitting — he will race in the super-G, more than 1½ weeks after he got to town.

"It's too bad we can't have every Olympics in Utah," he said with a smile, "where it only snows at night and it's always sunny and 25 degrees. That would have definitely been nice."

Ligety certainly isn't accustomed to biding his time.

Four years ago, all of 21 and at his first Olympics, Ligety won the combined event. Talk about an out-of-nowhere result. He wasn't supposed to excel; he had never finished higher than 10th in a top-level combined race. Plus, he was considered a slalom specialist at the time.

No longer. The guy simply is in a state of perpetual improvement, broadening his skills and his repertoire.

The goal now is to become a full-fledged, all-around racer, a legitimate contender in all five Alpine events: slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill and super-combined.

"We've always talked about that, and after this year, we're going to start to move that way. He's actually progressed faster in super-G than we were hoping," U.S. Ski Team men's coach Sasha Rearick said. "We've always tried to keep his slalom going — he's fast — but it's just finding that consistency."

Ligety actually looked pretty good in downhill training last week, using it not to prepare for that speed event, but to get ready for the super-combined, which adds times from one downhill run and one slalom run.

He won a bronze medal in the giant slalom at the 2009 world championships, and won the 2008 World Cup giant slalom season title.

This season, he won one giant slalom race and is leading that event's standings again, and also even earned a top-3 finish in one super-G race.

All that, and he's doing a little moonlighting, too.

Knowing there's a limited span to a skiing career, and wanting to be sure he'll have something set up afterward, Ligety already is president of his own company: a helmet and goggle maker called Shred Optics.

"We're not in the NFL or the NBA or anything. It's not the biggest moneymaking sport," Ligety said. "The top guys do decently, but we're always kind of thinking of the next step."

By winning gold in the Alps outside Turin in 2006, Ligety earned his moment in the spotlight, and the pink-and-green goggles he wore on the mountain got noticed.

"I had a lot of kids who were e-mailing me and asking me about the goggles, and how to get them. That summer, I was looking for new eyewear contracts and just wasn't that psyched by anything out there," he explained, "so I decided it was kind of time to start something on my own."

So now he heads to the hill with equipment from his very own shop, and it's anyone's guess what neon shades his helmet or goggles will be on a given day. Ligety needed to have special items made up to conform with International Olympic Committee rules governing how large a logo can be.

At these Olympics, he brought those signature bright colors to his racing suit, too, donning a new green-and-orange outfit in training last week.

"I actually didn't choose the colors. I think they went on to the Shred Web site and saw common color schemes and chose out of that," Ligety said. "I feel like it needs to be more of a neon green and less of a lime green."

Win another medal, Shred, and surely you won't need wild colors to grab attention.


AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf contributed to this report.