Ted Ligety is one of the best American skiers and an international skiing champion. In 2006, he won an Olympic gold medal for the combined; 2014, he won another in the giant slalom. In all, he’s accumulated twenty-three giant slalom world cup wins. I think I know at least two reasons he’s so very good.
Ligety’s known for his all-out effort, taking the gates close and at an angles to the ground that defy the laws of physics. As he cuts so close the the gate, he often drops his hand and drags his wrist on the snow around the turns. November 22, he hit the gate with his left hand. He’s had bones broken in the hand so often, he designed a glove to protect it. Didn’t work this time. He broke his wrist and tore many ligaments. Four screws were inserted surgically into his hand. He had to practice without ski poles because he couldn’t hold one in the left hand. From that, he said, came a positive. Skiing without a pole helped his balance.
A few weeks later, I watched an event at Birds of Prey. Ligety had a slow first run–slow for him means he was only tenths of seconds behind the best time. The announcers suggested that hand could be causing him not to be able to hold and move the ski poles as he usually did. On the second run, he smoked everyone, even with the mangled hand, and won first place in that event.
How does he do it? I said there were two reasons. First, he must have an incredibly high pain threshold. But I think the main reason is that skiing is what Ted LIgity does. That’s his focus, his life, his passion.
Most of us don’t have that level of passion and commitment. I have a friend who wrote a novel when she was hugely pregnant and had a broken wrist. I don’t know if I would. I don’t like pain.
I have no idea of what Ligity’s life is like but most of us have more balance than I assume he has. As well as what we love to do–which could be being with family, working, cooking or skiing–one of those doesn’t dominate our lives in terms or time and thought and effort.
But I keep coming back to one question: what is important enough in my life that would lead me to hurl myself down a snow-coverd slope at an incredible speed while winding around posts stuck in the snow while facing constantly the threat of terrible falls and broken bones? I can think of nothing but I admire the man for being so devoted to something so difficult.
I’d like to say I live my faith like this. I’d die for my faith, but I’m not sure I’d live for it with so much depth and commitment and possible injury.
What is your passion? Are you as devoted to it as Ligety?