Alpine Skiing

Double Olympic champion Ted Ligety retires early due to back pain

The 36-year-old has been forced to pull out of his intended swansong in the World Championship giant slalom due to "the worst sciatic pain of my life".

By Alessandro Poggi ·

Ted Ligety has had his last race with back pain ruling him out of his intended swansong at the Giant Slalom race at the Cortina 2021 ski World Championships.

The double Olympic champion had announced that he would end his professional skiing career, on Friday 19 February, after the GS.

But he said in an Instagram post on Saturday, "Yesterday, I woke up to the worst sciatic pain of my life."

X-rays showed two herniated discs which meant it was "not safe to ski right now", denying him the opportunity to try and conjure up some "vintage Ligety" for the last time.

Only on Tuesday, the American ski star had posted, "Next week the Cortina World Championships GS will be my last race.

"I’ve given everything I had to this sport and I am grateful for everything ski racing has given to me in return." - Ted Ligety

"I love this sport, and I’ve had so much fun racing World Cup for the last 17 years. I’ve achieved every childhood dream of winning Olympic gold medals, World Championships golds, and World Cups, but it’s time to be with my family," the double Olympic champion added.

Over 17 seasons, 'Mr GS' has collected 25 World Cup wins, five world titles, and Olympic gold medals in the combined event at Torino 2006 and in the giant slalom at Sochi 2014.

"I’m going to miss the thrill and competition, but equally the relationships I’ve made over the years, from my coaches, teammates, competitors, Alex; my tech, and other friends I’ve met along the way from the years of traveling."

"I’m excited for this next chapter with my wife and three boys. I am also looking forward to having more time to spend on my (ski goggles, sunglasses and helmets) business Shred Optics…and figuring out what’s next."

Ahead of the current campaign, the 36-year-old said he aimed to continue until Beijing 2022, so that his son Jax, born in 2017, could watch him compete at the Winter Olympics. But it was not meant to be.

The Salt Lake City-born skier will miss out on the opportunity of becoming the oldest American alpine skier at the Olympics. That title currently belongs to Bode Miller who was 36 years and 130 days when he raced in the giant slalom at Sochi 2014 (which Ligety won).

Ligety's last victory came in October 2016 in Soelden, before he tore the ACL ligament in his right knee in January. Another surgery the following year, this time on his back, ended his 2017 season prematurely.

His last podium came in January 2018 when he finished third at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

The American, who in 2013 became the first man to win three golds at a single World Championships for 45 years, is also among the few skiers to have a World Cup podium finish in all five disciplines.