TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – One of the most decorated skiers in U.S. history wants to give local kids a chance to ski. But 2-time Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety understands skiing is an expensive sport.
“The reason I wanted to be a part of this program and help start this is because I wanted more kids to ski,” said Ligety, who hails from Park City. “I was lucky enough to grow up ten minutes from the mountain in Park City, so my pathway was easier than most.”
So Ligety and fellow Olympian cross country skier Liz Stephen have teamed up to try to make skiing more accessible, offering affordably priced lessons to kids at the YMCA in Taylorsville and Ogden, and even free skis to schools with the Ted Ligety Learn to Ski Program.
“We just want more kids to get involved,” said Stephen. “You have to make it accessible because you don’t want it to become a sport that’s just accessible for the ones than can afford it. Sport is supposed to be for anyone.
“It’s a shame if you live in Utah and don’t ski,” added Ligety. “I’ve traveled the whole world basically, and Utah is still the best among them.”
And Ligety has been the best as well. He’s the only American ever to win two Olympic gold medals go to along with his five World Championships. But Ligety is coming off knee surgery, and is hoping for a bounce back year this winter.
“I’m 32 years old now, so there’s lots of bumps and pains along the way,” he said. “So, coming back from blowing out my knee last year, I start skiing next week in New Zealand. But, everything feels great. Health-wise, it’s going well and I’m feeling strong.”
For a kid who learned to ski at Park City Mountain Resort to becoming one of the greatest skiers in American history, Ligety appreciates how far he has come.
“It’s pretty surreal to realize what I’ve done in this sport for sure,” he said. “I never would have thought that when I was a little kid that I would be as good as I was, but I try not to reflect on it too much. That’s something I’ll deal with when I’m retired.”
Until then, maybe he can give one of these lucky kids the chance to be the next Ted Ligety.