Ted Ligety competes during run 1 of the Audi FIS alpine ski world cup men's giant slalom on Feb. 2, 2020 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
For Ted Ligety’s 289,000 Instagram followers, his 3-year-old son Jax occasionally steals the show.
“Faster!” Jax urged dad as they mountain biked around Park City, Utah, this summer, Jax in a front-mounted kid’s bike seat, front-and-center on Ligety’s GoPro selfie videos.
Or “I saw a snake!,” Jax enthusiastically announced on a recent gravel ride, which started a conversation with dad about garter snakes.
“We bike a lot in the summertime,” said Ligety by phone from Austria. “We can go out for two hours. It’s nice to be able to get a workout in and entertain him, and he entertains me.”
In a couple more years, Jax will likely share the GoPro star role with fraternal twin brothers, Alec and Will, who were born in mid-July—shortly after Ligety broke his wrist mountain biking (fortunately, without Jax along for the ride).
“Advice to men with pregnant wives,” he posted on Instagram, along with GoPro action of his ill-fated descent through the Utah birches. “Don’t get hurt 2 days before the due date.”
Ligety’s wrist is fully healed, and he has been in Austria preparing for the Soelden World Cup giant slalom race, the first alpine world cup on the 2020/2021 calendar.
It will be the twelfth time that 36-year-old Ligety has raced at Soelden. The man dubbed “Mr. GS”—for his long dominance of giant slalom, including the 2014 Olympic gold medal in the event, three world championship GS titles, and five GS world cup globes—has won the Soelden GS four times and finished on the podium seven times.
He also holds an Olympic gold medal from the combined at the 2006 Games, and seven total world championship medals—the most for American men.
His last podium finish in Soelden was a win in 2015.
Since then, Ligety has had knee surgery (January 2016—the first of his long career) and a year later, a microdiscectomy on his back. Return to his dominant form—when he won GS races by huge margins—has taken time. He has only finished on the world cup podium once since his back surgery. And at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang, he did not defend his giant slalom title; his best result was fifth in combined.
Last season, Ligety finished fifth at the Soelden World Cup—a sign that he is nearing his former level.
“My body is feeling pretty good,” he said. “This year and last year, I feel like I’ve crossed a bridge as far as getting my back to a place where it’s sustainable and not hindering me on a daily basis. I’m 36. I don’t feel like I did when I was 25 anymore, that’s for sure.”
He added wryly, “But I can put my socks on in the morning, which is an improvement versus a few years ago.”
Ligety raced mostly giant slaloms last year on the world cup tour. He plans to do the same this winter.