Ted Ligety left the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships with a gold and bronze medal adding to his dominating legacy.
Ligety now has seven career World Championship medals, the most of any American skier.
His gold came in the men’s giant slalom.
“It’s hard to rank them, but this win is a little more emotional that some of the other ones just because this year has been a little more of a struggle,” he said. “In 2013, I was winning everything, so I felt like I should have it really easily. Same with the Olympics. I was skiing great before that and knew I should be able to win it. This one was a bigger question mark as far as how I was skiing and how I could handle it. To be able to come through and pull it off is awesome.”
Ligety took bronze in the men’s combined while finishing ninth in the super-G
Held every two years, the championships took to the slopes of Vail and Beaver Creek, Colorado, and wrapped up February 15.
The U.S. had a strong showing winning a total of five medals, including two golds, placing them second in medal counts behind Austria.
Teenager Mikaela Shiffrin, America’s sweetheart defended her slalom crown by winning gold on Valentine’s Day.
Shiffrin skied to first place on a day with 50 degree temperatures and her sitting in the snow between runs to cool down.
Just 19, she’s now the back-to-back slalom World Champ having won an Olympic gold in Sochi as well.
“It’s pretty crazy now that I think about it,” she said following running 60 gates to gold. “Just before my second run, I started to convince myself how much I wanted to win this race. It’s about the process; it’s about the turns. I’m happy! It’s nice to be in the green.”
With the Worlds held in the Rocky Mountains, many athletes felt at ease on some hometown turf, being cheered by family and friends who ordinarily don’t make trips abroad for the races.
“I felt a little bit of pressure racing at home,” she said. “I actually might be in a little bit of denial about it. I always say that I don’t really feel pressure, but I think I feel it—it’s just about how I handle it. It sparks throughout the day where I think, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t do this.’ Then there are moments when I think, ‘I’m king of the world.’ It’s just about finding the right attitude in the right moment and putting it together for a win.”
Shiffrin finished eighth in the giant slalom as well.
Travis Ganong’s first World Championships medal is silver and it came on a day with three Americans in the top ten on the Birds of Prey downhill as the cowbells rung. Steven Nyman finished fourth and Andrew Weibrecht was ninth.
“There’s so much pressure here in front of the home country, hometown crowd, my friends and family,” said Ganong, 26. “I woke up this morning and I had so much pressure. I couldn’t really sleep much last night. But I woke up and was like, ‘OK, I’ve skied my whole life. I’ve trained so hard the last couple of years. I love to ski. Let’s go out have some fun.’ All day long, I was just super relaxed and having a good time. It’s unbelievable. Skiing is the most fun thing you can do, and when it works out well in a venue and on a stage like this, it’s so special.”
Ganong was fifth in the Birds of Prey downhill in December and fifth at the Olympics in Sochi. Before Ganong, the last World Championships downhill medal for the U.S. was in 2005 when Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves finished first and second in Bornio, Italy.
Lindsey Vonn began the championships with a women’s super-G bronze as all four U.S. starters placed in the top 15.
“I was a little bit nervous,” she said. “I felt like I had it under control. I maybe was a little stiff in the first couple of gates and a little round, but that’s nitpicking. I thought I skied well and I was clean. I did my best! Sometimes luck is on your side.”
She placed fifth in the women’s downhill, 14th in the giant slalom and didn’t finish the slalom portion of the combined.
Miller crashed in the men’s super-G, underwent surgery on his severed right hamstring tendon and is deciding whether to continue ski racing.