Ted Ligety, a four-time Olympian, is world-known for his impressive Alpine skiing feats. He won a gold medal in the 2006 (Alpine combined) and 2014 (giant slalom) Winter Olympics, with the former win earning him the distinction of being the youngest American male to win a gold medal in alpine skiing. He was just 21.
Ted, a Park City native, is adamant that his success is thanks to the opportunities and access Park City afforded him. “Park City is such an awesome environment to grow up in,” he states. “I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did in my ski career or be who I am without growing up here.”
A love of skiing brought Ted’s parents to Park City in the 1970s. They introduced Ted to skiing at age 2 and fostered an appreciation of the outdoors in Ted and his younger brother, Charly. “We skied a lot as a family,” Ted remembers. “That was our main family activity — skiing and mountain biking, and outdoorsy stuff around town. My parents often joke that the mountain was my babysitter.”
Throughout his youth, Ted became increasingly involved in Park City-based ski programs, which proved to be essential to his success as a competitive skier. He participated in the Deer Valley Learn to Ski program until he joined the Park City Farm Team, followed by the Park City Ski Team. Eventually, Ted became a student at the Winter Sports School.
“The combination of the Park City Ski Team and the Winter Sports School was definitely transformative,” Ted explains, adding that the collaborative nature of the two programs catches the essence of Park City. Participating in both offerings prepared him for the intense training and commitment required in a professional ski career.
Ultimately, Ted’s participation in the Park City Ski Team altered the course of his life. Through the team, he was able to test the slalom course for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah. “I was fortunate enough to forerun the slalom at Deer Valley, so I was in a small way part of those Olympics,” he remembers.
Through his role as course tester, Ted gained access to backstage events and got his first glimpse into the life of an Olympic athlete. And it was while watching his heroes that Ted had a revelation: “To see the guys I was really looking up to on their biggest day acting similar to my 17-year-old friend and me at a ski race … a light bulb went off in my head, and I thought, ‘Woah, this is achievable. I don’t have to be a machine to reach the best in the world.’ To have the opportunity to see that at a formative age … was a huge breakthrough,” he exclaims.
Four years after the 2002 Winter Olympics, Ted won his first gold at the Olympic Games in Torino. The win even kicked off a new Utah tradition. “Utah hadn’t really had a homegrown Olympic medalist until 2006 — and every single Olympics since then, we have a new one,” he says, explaining that an athlete from Utah has been on the podium in every Winter Olympic Games since 2006.
Ted officially retired from competitive skiing in February 2021 and is enjoying spending more time at home in Park City with his family. He’s determined to pass his love of the outdoors to his three sons: 5-year-old Jax and 2-year-old twins Al and Will. “There are few places that are like this,” Ted explains. “I want to share my childhood experiences with my kids.”
Ted also remains deeply involved in the ski world. He was an announcer for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and is committed to seeing the Winter Olympics return to Utah.
“I’m on the strategic board for the committee to get the games back in 2030 or 2034,” Ted explains. “I’m involved in trying to bring the games back because I see it as such an important and beneficial thing that happened in my life and a hugely transformative thing for the youth in the area.”
He knows from his own experience that bringing the Olympics back will open new doors and encourage the next generation of athletes.
“To bring the games back here to showcase the best in the world to Utah and Utah’s youth … is a huge opportunity,” he says, “As Utahns, we should be immensely proud that we’ve done an amazing job of hosting the games in the past, and we’ve done an amazing job utilizing those games as a way to inspire local kids in this area.”