Defending gold medalist Ted Ligety has ‘really awful day’ in GS, finishing 15th |

Defending gold medalist Ted Ligety has ‘really awful day’ in GS, finishing 15th

Ed Stoner

United States' Ted Ligety gestures after the second run of the men's giant slalom at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Ted Ligety came into Pyeongchang with hopes of earning his third Olympic medal.

By the end of his first run Sunday in his signature event, that dream was already out of reach.

Mr. G.S., who for years dominated the giant slalom, winning five discipline titles, seemed to be a shadow of his former self.

"Today was just a really awful day," he said. "A really bad day and time to not ski up to the level I wanted to."

The Sochi defending gold medalist finished more than three seconds behind winner Marcel Hirscher, ending up in 15th place, at the YongPyong Alpine Centre.

"I didn't attack the way I could have or should have," he said. "There's no explanation for that."

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Ligety finished 2.44 seconds back after the first run. He said he thought he had skied better than he did.

"I was really surprised when I saw the time," he said. "I didn't feel like I crushed it, but it didn't feel two and a half seconds bad."

The 33-year-old Park City native won his first World Cup on this hill at the YongPyong Alpine Centre in 2006.

That same year, he won gold in the combined at the Olympics in Torino. He added another gold in the giant slalom in Sochi in 2014.

Ligety hasn't won a World Cup race since tearing his right ACL in a training crash in January 2016. After returning later that year, he suffered from back pain during races. He had back surgery in January 2017, and took off another 11 months.

He finally returned to the World Cup tour in December, scoring a podium finish at his last race before the Olympics, a giant slalom in Garmisch, Germany.

Ligety said he'll return for another season of racing, but didn't make any predictions about whether this is his last Olympics.

"I'll be 37 years old then," he said of the Beijing Games. "And that's not out of the realm of possibilities. We'll see."

Ligety's wife, Mia, and 7-month-old son, Jax, were on the event to cheer him on.

Ligety later posted a photo of Jax, saying "he is the bright spot on the day."

"There's other priorities sometimes in life now other than just ski racing," he said.

Hirscher won his second gold of the Pyeongchang Games on Sunday after previously winning the alpine combined.

"He is the greatest ever," said bronze medalist Alexis Pinturault, of France. "You just have to see his career. He's beaten everybody now. There is only (all-time World Cup winner Ingemar) Stenmark, but he could beat him as well. It just depends on how long he wants to carry on."

Hirscher, who has 55 World Cup victories at age 28, said he didn't think he could beat Stenmark's record of 86 World Cup wins.

"No chance," he said. "I'm not interested in skiing for another five to 10 years."