On Saturday, American Ted Ligety announced via social media he would not be able to make his planned last start at the world championships in Cortina.

The two-time Olympic champ was going to retire next Friday after the giant slalom.

But he woke up to severe back pain on Friday and announced that a scan revealed his back was herniated to the point it’s not safe to ski.

“I was excited to race one last time then retire on my own terms,” Ligety said. “To dig deep, throw down and see what would be possible. Perhaps conjure up some ‘vintage Ligety.’ Unfortunately it was not to be, my back said I’m the boss and you are finished now.

“Yesterday, I woke up to the worst sciatic pain of my life. I can’t point to anything that triggered it but I had been experiencing low grade sciatica for a week or two which was ‘normal’ for me on occasion for the last several years. An MRI revealed my discs at L4-5 and L5-S1 are herniated to the point it’s not safe to ski right now,” he went on to say.

“For context, the last six years my back has been in control of my skiing. Four years ago after years of therapy and numerous cortisone injections were to no avail I had surgery. The surgery was largely successful and greatly reduced my symptoms. But if I’m honest with myself my back was never the same again. Okay became good and bad became fine. I tricked myself into thinking it was good and could support the forces needed to win, clearly it could not.

“Now it’s time to get my back healthy to support a lifetime of playing and skiing with my kids. Thank you everyone for your support,” he concluded.

The American is going home and will not race in Cortina.

Ligety won the combined at the 2006 Turin Games and the giant slalom at the 2014 Sochi Games. He also claimed five world titles and was for many years the premier giant slalom skier.

Can’t make this $h!+ up. Ligety Out!

I was excited to race one last time then retire on my own terms. To dig deep,…

Posted by Ted Ligety on Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


  1. There is a “Right Time” to retire and many athletes miss it. With his exasperated spine condition and a young family at home I believe that Ted made the correct call ! Now he can go full speed with the most important role in his life, being a present and involved father and husband for his young children and wife ! I hope that he continues on as a great ambassador for US Skiing!


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