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Alpine skiing: Double Olympic champion Ligety to retire after Cortina

FILE PHOTO: Winner Ted Ligety of the U.S. holds up his national flag during the flower ceremony for the men's alpine skiing giant slalom event in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center

(Reuters) – American Ted Ligety, a double Olympic champion, announced on Tuesday he would retire after racing at the Alpine skiing world championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, next week.

The 36-year-old said on Instagram that the Feb. 19 giant slalom would be his farewell.

“I’ve given everything I had to this sport and I am grateful for everything ski racing has given to me in return,” said the 2006 Turin Combined Olympic champion and 2014 Sochi giant slalom gold medallist.

“I love this sport, and I’ve had so much fun racing World Cup for the last 17 years. I’ve achieved every childhood dream of winning Olympic gold medals, world championships golds, and World Cups, but it’s time to be with my family.”

Ligety has five world championship golds — three in giant slalom in 2011, 2013 and 2015 as well as super-G and combined in 2013 — and two bronzes.

His golden triple at Schladming, Austria, in 2013 made him the first male skier to win three or more at a single championships since France’s Jean-Claude Killy took four in 1968.

His first World Cup victory, at Yongpyong in South Korea in 2006, came after he had won Olympic gold. He leaves after 336 World Cup starts, 25 wins and 52 podiums across five disciplines.

“I’ve always said I didn’t want to think back on my legacy or my career until I was done… and now I’m super excited. I’m super proud of what I was able to do,” said Ligety, the only male American Alpine skier to win two Olympic golds.

“The thing I’m most proud of was probably Schladming.”

The father of three said spending a long time away from his young family was “not really manageable anymore.

“I think there’s a time in your life where family is more important than skiing. That time has come,” he added.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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