Ligety takes American ski spotlight

"I was watching the guys coming down in the second run and the conditions, and it just reminded me of too many races where I'm like, 'OK, he's got a big lead and he's going to do what he usually does, which is ski solid and clean and come down with by a large amount.' Which is what he did. That's not easy to do, though. Even if it is a lot of time, he has to remain super mentally tough to hold it together."

"It isn't always that easy, mentally," Ligety said. "Because you look pretty stupid if you mess it up. If you blow out by taking too much risk, you look stupid. If you go too easy and blow your lead, you look even more stupid. So it's not such an easy position to be in."

Ligety skied cautiously during his second run, making sure he didn't make mistakes in the riskiest portions of the course. Even so, spectators here feared he was going to crash in one section. But that's just Ligety's natural style. He is able to bend so low in a turn that his body is almost perpendicular to the snow while his ski edges are at nearly 90-degree angles.

"He's able to just risk it and make turns that the rest of us are saying, 'Wow, I really wish I could do that,'" Jitloff said. "Sometimes it looks normal and clean and you say, 'That wasn't anything special.' But he makes no errors, and he comes down with the big margin, and everyone's jaws are on the floor and are like, 'How did he do that?'"

Ligety said he felt only relief crossing that line, but his fellow skiers felt mostly admiration.

"It reminds me of when [tennis player Roger] Federer was so dominant for about four years there and everyone was like, 'What do you do? How do you beat him?'" Jitloff said. "I don't know."

Miller might be gone from the Olympics, but he's left them in good hands. After all, Ligety has two gold medals, and he still can win more. He is only 29 and plans to be on the podium in Korea in four years as well, even if Miller will be watching on TV instead from the course.

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