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Olympics: Confident Ligety to rebound from 2010 failure

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

American star Ted Ligety has credited his disappointing performance at the 2010 Vancouver Games with positively changing his mental approach towards ski racing.

Ligety shot to prominence when he won the super-combined gold medal at the 2006 Turin Games as a 21-year-old rookie.

But it didn't carry through to the slopes of Whistler four years back when he finished ninth in his favoured discipline of giant slalom, an event he has truly dominated on the World Cup stage, and fifth in the super-combined.

"Vancouver was definitely a disappointment," the 29-year-old said after a first downhill training run Tuesday ahead of Friday's super-combined race.

"I felt I had a really good chance to medal there. I was first in the world in giant slalom at the time and ended up ninth.

"In the finish line of that race I knew I could have gone a lot harder and been a lot faster with a small change in my mentality and how I approach the course.

"Ever since then I've been able to raise my intensity and ski at a level where I'm happy every time I get to the finish line, whether that's winning or blowing out or getting third place.

"I just want to be happy that I push myself as hard as I could every single run, every single race."

Ligety confirmed his all-round prowess at last year's World Ski Championships in Schladming, winning three golds (giant slalom, super-G, super-combined) to become the first man in 45 years to do so.

"The world champs in Schladming last year and winning three gold medals was definitely a dream," he admitted.

"It was as good as I could have skied for two weeks straight. I was super proud of myself.

"It was nice to win other events apart from giant slalom."

Worringly for his rivals, Ligety said his confidence was sky high, notably after a crushing victory in the final World Cup giant slalom in St Moritz before the Games here.

"My confidence is high. I won the last giant slalom coming in here," the four-time world champion said. "I felt like my skiing is where I want it to be.

"I'm feeling similar to how I did last year. If I get the same results, that would be nice!"

There would also be no problem get psyched up for the events at Rosa Khutor, the Park City, Utah, native insisted.

"I wouldn't say there's any difference in the motivation" between different Games, he said.

"If anything winning my first gold medal was a bigger motivation for me to succeed more because I didn't want to become just a one-hit wonder and only win one Olympic gold medal and then not do anything else whether on the World Cup, world championships or Olympics.

"It was a good motivator for me to work harder and get even better at my sport."

As for favourites for the combined -- consisting of one downhill followed by a slalom run, Ligety named himself, teammate and defending Olympic combined champion Bode Miller, Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal and Croat veteran Ivica Kostelic "if he's feeling healthy".

"There's a big downhill and there's a big ability of guys to separate themselves from guys like me or Alexis," he said in reference to their specifically more technical strengths.

"Hopefully I'll be close to those guys and have a buffer on the guys who are really good slalom skiers."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140211/olympics-confident-ligety-rebound-2010-failure