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Olympian Ted Ligety, the Fastest Man on Two Skis

I like the way you work it, yo Ligety! Competing in four Olympic events — men’s super-combined, Super-G, giant slalom and slalom — the 29-year-old professional skier had been preparing for months in hopes to bring home at least one gold medal from the Winter Games in Sochi. We sat down with Ted Ligety to talk diet, the competition he’s looking forward to most, and why the largest amount of pressure he feels is from himself.

Tell us a little about your fitness routine leading up to the Olympics.

In season, our fitness routine is mostly on-snow. Our actual ski training is really good stimulus — it’s a great power and strength workout. We do physical testing before the season and at the end of the season. We actually get stronger throughout the season.

What are you doing when you’re in the gym?

Mostly legs and core. That’s our main thing. I do a lot of muscle endurance, lower body stuff, a lot of circuits where I’m lifting weights, still lifting heavy but going from one exercise to another. The circuit that I do is normally about seven minutes long. Workouts are always varied, but we also do a ton of floor workouts with a lot of leg work.

Do you work out as a team or mostly on your own?

Sometimes with the team, sometimes by myself. It depends on the day.

What about nutrition? What’s your go-to breakfast?

My typical breakfast is usually cereal and a banana and some yogurt.

And do food choices change at all throughout the year? Did you make nutrition tweaks as the Olympics approached?

Yeah, it’s tough when you’re on the road and living in hotels to be super consistent, so you have to be flexible with that stuff. The nice thing about ski racing is you’re not trying to meet weight or do anything like that. We can be a little bigger. It’s actually better for skiers to be a little bigger. We eat healthy though, for sure. That’s the most important thing.

What event are you most looking forward to out of the four you’re competing in: super-combined, Super-G, giant slalom or slalom?

The giant slalom. That’s the event that I really feel like I have the best chance of winning, but I’ll be competing in four events there. I’d like to do well in all of them obviously.

Which will be the most challenging?

It’s tough to say. I think they all have their own challenges. The giant slalom is the one that I have the best chance of winning, but at the same time, that brings its own challenges. The pressure there and trying to live up to that expectation is going to be difficult, especially with how successful I’ve been in that event over the last couple years. But I think Super-G will be difficult. The Super-Gs that I’ve typically done really well on are the more technical Super-Gs, and this one isn’t the most technical out there. So that’s a little bit more outside my skill set, but I still feel like I have a good chance in that event.

So are you ready for the pressure? Or as ready as you’re going to be?

Yeah, I think so. I mean, the most pressure that I have is the pressure I put on myself. I’m super internally motivated. I’m not so worried about the pressure otherwise.

What would be your number one tip to those of us non-Olympians who just want to be better skiers?

Outside of just going out and doing it? I think for people who don’t ski very much, you should get really good at walking in your boots, because you use different muscles being in your boots. So if you’re good at walking, you can be a good skier, and the people who are bad skiers generally aren’t very good at walking in their boots.

Any mantra you say to yourself right before your run to calm the nerves?

I don’t have a specific thing I say. I kind of go through my game plan of what I’m going to do on the race hill. Then, right when I’m in the start gate I’m pretty blank. I’m just thinking about going fast. When I’m on the course I want to be just reacting instinctually; so I don’t want to have too many thoughts going through my head.

To stay close to the action, follow Ted and Team USA on Twitter, and be sure to tune into the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games on NBC this Friday, February 14th to see Ligety compete for gold. 

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