U.S. Olympic Sochi Alpine Ski Gold Medalist Ted Ligety is teaming up with Youth Enrichment Services Operation Snowsports to help pay for urban youth to get outdoors where they’ll learn how to ski and snowboard and, in turn, build self-confidence and gain invaluable life skills. At the XXII Winter Olympics hosted by Sochi, Russia, Ted skied low and produced near 90-degree angle turns that helped him win a gold medal in the men’s giant slalom, the first American to win this event twice. Team USA is racing on NBC Sports Network today and Ted will attempt to win more medals for Team USA in the slalom event. The Sports Techie blog reached out to the CEO of Dartfish and to one of Ligety’s first US Ski Team coaches to learn more about his passion for sports technology that he brings to the Citi Everystep program.

Team Citi Athletes

It is an honor to be part of an exclusive group of bloggers who are using their influence to share stories of the Team Citi® athletes and the programs they are helping, while supporting Team USA.  These nine U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes represent nine winter sports programs in need. Each Team Citi athlete has teamed up with a U.S Olympic, Paralympic or community program in need. Citi donated $500,000 to the U.S. Olympic Committee to help these programs thrive Citi® Every Step of the Way®. You decide who should get the funds by a simple click.

Citi® Every Step of the Way® Welcome Video

Team Citi Athletes Team Up with U.S Olympic, Paralympic And Community Programs In Need | SportsTechie blog

Citi donated $500K to the USOC. It is not donating the funds to the sports programs directly. Instead, at the conclusion of the Every Step of the Way program, the USOC will distribute the funds to their sports programs. This is where you, a Sports Techie community member, can make a big difference. Consumers cannot award funds directly, rather they are ‘helping” to award the funds. Choose Team Ted because he believes in teaching kids good life skills.

Ted Ligety

Ted Ligety’s Bio Video

The National Governing Body of skiing required longer and straighter skis that are hard for even world-class skiers to carve up the slopes with. Early turns on the new skis can reduce sliding and decrease spraying snow that means slower turns. On the old skis, Ted laid over more than most other competitors, on the new skis, no one does it better.

As a result, Ted is a 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist, 4x World Champion, 4x World Cup Giant Slalom Champion and co-founded Shred Optics. Add the Sochi hardware to his impressive ski achievements and we are talking about the GOAT (greatest of all time) skier in American downhill history.

Ted feels the Giant Slalom is like running a 400 yard track & field race, it’s a gasser.  The one minute and fifteen seconds it takes for Ted to carve up the winning path no other skier has the talent to emulate is a huge competitive edge and gold medal difference maker in a sport where hundredths of a second can be the winning difference.

Ted was born in 1984 which is the same year I graduated from Redmond High School. That year, the XXII Olympic Winter Games were held in Sarajevo (present day Bosnia-Herzegovina) that featured twin brothers Phil and Steve Mahre from our state of Washington who earned first and second place in the slalom.  Bill Johnson became the first American to win an Olympic downhill event at the XIV Olympic Winter Games.  Perhaps a baby born in 2014 will go on to Olympic glory because of the Youth Enrichment Services if you choose TeamTed.

Ultra Sports Techie Ted

In 2001, I moved from Seattle to Atlanta as a Program Manager for Dartfish.  Victor Bergonzoli, Dartfish CEO, is a long-time friend and knows Ted personally. I asked Victor about their company relationship with Ted and his passion for sports tech and performance analysis.

Bergonzoli said, Dartfish solutions have been the choice of champions for many years. To win a gold medal you need a special mindset and we have seen that athletes who have realized how Dartfish can help them shave these hundreds of seconds are the same ones who raise to the top.”

When the Sochi medal count Big Data is crunched, you can bet Dartfish will have  touched on over 50, 60 or even 75 percent of medal winners such as Ted.

New DARTFISH Express app launched for iOS Universal iPhone and iPad | Sports Techie blog

My work colleague at Dartfish, Thomas Erhard, is the current Head Coach, US Ski Team Academy, a high school for the next generation of US ski stars. He is in charge of athletic component. Thomas was also one of Ted’s coaches when he first made the United States ski team.

According to Erhard, “He is a pure tactician in every respect! He made it to his legendary status by hard work and meticulous preparation. I was one of his first coaches on the ski team and his work ethic combined with his desire were unmatched. He was ready to do anything it took to be the best!”

T went on to say, “In his recent climb to domination of the hardest event in ski racing, Giant Slalom, he along with his coaches and his ski company, Head, have done enormous amount of high speed camera, drone and GoPro analysis of everything that is happening and important. Way more than any other athlete (this is my opinion, not fact). Using cameras that film at thousands of frames per second, he and his coaches analyzed what the new skis were doing and how he could best make them work for his style.”

Thomas summed his thoughts about Ted and sports tech by saying, “Much of this you can read on the internet. His own analysis of tactics and technique are an education in and of themselves! He is like a champion Formula 1 race car driver. I would compare him to Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher in his approach to success, combining a knowledge of equipment and human performance!”

Big Edge Angle

The main objective in Alpine Skiing is to go as fast as you can, pushing as hard as you can in every turn because that is how you get speed out of the turn. Ted is magical at performing the Big Edge Angle in that he is able to make the new skis in place since 2006, which do not turn very easily, look like they turn easily under constant speed and rhythm and with little sideways sliding. Mid-turn, his body is horizontal to the hill due to a tighter radius and arc, this cuts off distance allowing him to go cleaner throughout the turn, all equating to a faster time.

The New York Times created an impressive interactive analysis of Ted’s laid over style. He simply does not spray snow in the corners like everyone else. Ligety’s unique ability to start his next turn before ending his last turn is why he is a champion. He exerts greater pressure on skis, bending them at every turn and by releasing the pressure coming out of the turn, these motions will slingshot him towards the next gate. This skill at the gate is unmatched on the World Cup circuit. His fast transition on the downhill ski allows him to start his turn on the other ski, really quickly at times. This fundamental is easy to see in super slow motion video replay. I am sure his kids in the Youth Enrichment Services will enjoy receiving a video breakdown by Ted after you select their program at the Citi website.

He begins on the apex and pushing as hard as he can, he almost does a step onto the new ski while it is still on the edge it was currently on in the turn. Before it rolls from an uphill edge to the downhill edge, he gets on the new ski before he switches it. Ligety told the NY Times that he is pushing on the new ski really early when it is working against gravity, pushing himself downhill in a way.

Pushing off that ski as hard as he can, he tries to finish his turn, right at the gate, where there is enough ski bend and direction with his skis; Ligety literally “pops” out his skis to get across the hill. Most skiers slide at the top ten percent of the turn, this makes it easier to not make mistakes but it is slower from turn to turn. The end result for Ted are gold medal paths.

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Follow hashtag #EveryStep and the handle @CitiEveryStep.

This post was created in partnership with Citi®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Sports Techie, Much like the NordicCombined program and US Team member Billy Demong, Alpine Skiing has an equally dedicated, talented and humble athlete in Ligety.  The Youth Enrichment Services program could not have a better role model than Ted who began skiing as a young boy when he lost regularly as a kid. He studied the faster kids, trained year-round and fine tuned his technique. Ligety began as a Professional ski racer in 1995 and eventually won Gold in at the Torino Winter Games in 2006. His 9th place finish in Vancouver 2010 was a gut check that resulted in Ted coming back to win three gold medals at the Ski Racing World Championships in Austria three years later, the first man in 45 years to do it.

Not only does Ted and his coaching staff study video and make course adjustments like a Super Bowl quarterback and offense coordinator does in the middle of an NFL football game,  I watched a NBC Olympics interview of his U.S. ski team coach who was filming the Sochi racers hoping to uncover the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center perfect line from his tree perch. Team Ted are setting an example for boys and girls on how to ski their best using sports technology products, apps and solutions to make it so. These sports tech centric trends will soon catch on all at North American and International ski resorts.

Ted is the proud partner of Citi EveryStep as is Sports Techie. His work with GoPro has elevated the sport of downhill skiing worldwide. The fact that he is the Shredoptics co-founder is awesome. Shred is about un-limiting an athlete’s pursuit of fun through their technological advances in engineering. Engage with the car jumping, thrill seeking, nomad mentor at @tedligety  and http://www.tedligety.com/.

Ligety is on the constant search for the perfect path like kids are in life. Like in an Alpine race, the smallest mistakes can cost Ted the same as mistakes in life can cost kids before they have a chance to reach adulthood. Growing up in Park City helped Ligety live the extreme ski life but he understands that youth across America do not have the same resources available to them.

Let’s help fund a way up to the hill for kids with transportation and lift tickets, and at the same time share Ted’s strong work ethic with them as a Sports Techie community show of support for the Youth Enrichment Services Operation Snowsports, via your click.

Our gratitude goes to Victor and Ted for their expert feedback. Well done, Ultra Sports Techie Ted and Citi.

I will see ya when I see ya, THE Sports Techie @THESportsTechie – http://twitter.com/THESportsTechie

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