Ted Ligety knew he hadn't turned in the best opening run in defense of his Olympic giant slalom title. What he couldn't tell as he was heading down the hill was just how poorly he'd done.
"I was really surprised when I saw the time," the 33-year-old American said Sunday after the first of his two GS runs at the Pyongyang Alpine Center effectively ended any hopes of another medal in a race he won at the 2014 Sochi Games.
"It didn't feel like I crushed it," Ligety said, before adding with a chuckle: "But it didn't feel 2½ seconds bad."
Well, it was. And then Ligety lost more ground to eventual gold medalist Marcel Hirscher in the second leg and ended up tied for 15th place, a total of 3.21 seconds slower than the winning time of 2 minutes, 18.04 seconds.
"Today was just a really off day," Ligety said. "A really bad day and time to not ski up to the level I wanted to."
There was nothing ailing him, he said, no sort of injury holding him back.
"Nothing to blame but myself for that first run. Second run, I tried to step it up a little bit more, but just didn't have the speed and the legs today, I guess," said Ligety, who placed fifth behind Hirscher in the Alpine combined on Tuesday.
Ligety collected a surprising gold in the combined at the 2006 Turin Olympics.
But the giant slalom has been Ligety's forte for years.
In addition to the triumph at Sochi, which made him the only U.S. male Alpine skier with two Olympic golds, he won GS world championships in 2011, 2013 and 2015, along with a bronze in the event at the 2009 worlds.
Because of his age in a sport where nobody older than 36 ever has won an Olympic medal, it was natural for others to wonder whether this might be it for Ligety on this stage.
"I'll be 37 years old then, and that's not out of the realm of possibilities. We'll see," he said. "I hope to keep skiing at a high level and get back to where I feel like I can and should be. Who knows if that's in four years still or a couple years less?"
That wasn't on his mind Sunday, though.
He said it's not something he's been pondering, making sure to take everything in just in case he never competes again at a Winter Games.
"I don't know if I'm going to keep going for another four years. But I know for sure I'm going to race next year, and we'll see after that," said Ligety, whose wife and 7-month-old baby are with him in South Korea. "When you have a family and stuff like that, it kind of changes your perspective. There's other priorities in life now than just ski racing."
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