Ted Ligety skis on his way to winning the Men's Giant Slalom. (Clive Mason / Getty Images )
Ted Ligety has joined some of skiing's legends. And in doing so, the American catapulted himself into the sport's biggest spotlight heading into next year's Sochi Olympics.
By winning Friday's giant slalom at Schladming, Austria, by a massive margin, Ligety became the first man in 45 years to win three gold medals at a skiing world championships — since French great Jean-Claude Killy took home four golds in 1968.
"I still don't think I recognize what I've done this week," Ligety said. "It's just been so phenomenal to win three gold medals, especially in two events that I hadn't won in before."
Ligety opened the championships last week by winning the super-G, then followed that up with gold in the super-combined Monday — both events he had never won on the World Cup circuit.
Ligety put himself in position as the next big thing heading into Sochi. But with Lindsey Vonn having had a season-ending crash in her opening event here and Bode Miller taking this season off to recover from left knee surgery, Ligety will almost surely be thrust into the role that Miller had for the 2006 Turin Games and that Vonn dealt with for the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Before 35,000 fans, Ligety established a 1.31-second lead in the opening run Friday and overcame a slight bobble in the second leg to finish 0.81 ahead of Austrian rival Marcel Hirscher — the only man to beat Ligety in a GS this season — and 1.75 in front of Manfred Moelgg, who gave Italy's GS squad its first medal since Alberto Tomba in 1996.
While the numbers were impressive, what his fellow skiers marveled at was Ligety's form — how he leaned down at near-impossible angles for each turn, dragging his hips and hands across the snow as the edges of his skis carved stayed on perfect line.
Goodell makes nearly $30 million
Nice job, Roger Goodell. Here's your pay: $29.49 million.
NFL owners nearly tripled the commissioner's compensation in the 2011 tax year and likely made Goodell the best-paid commissioner in U.S. sports.
According to the league's most recent tax return, much of Goodell's pay comes in the form of a $22.3 million bonus. His base pay was $3.1 million. The NFL was scheduled to file the return Friday.
The Green Bay Packers released veteran defensive back Charles Woodson.
General Manager Ted Thompson announced the move Friday, saying the team would not have won the 2010 Super Bowl without Woodson and saying the "once-in-a-generation talent" was an ambassador for the organization off the field.
The 36-year-old Woodson has two years left on a five-year contract that was worth as much as $55 million. His agent, Carl Poston, says Woodson still wants to play for a Super Bowl contender.
The Indianapolis Colts said they will not re-sign former league sacks champion Dwight Freeney or oft-injured receiver Austin Collie.
Both will become unrestricted free agents next month.
Representatives of the International Ice Hockey Federation, the NHL and the NHL Players' Assn. ended two days of meetings about NHL players' participation in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics with cordial comments and an understanding that they will talk again next week.
IIHF President Rene Fasel and the organization's general secretary, Horst Lichtner, were in New York Thursday and Friday to discuss how the sides might resolve the issues that have divided them. The NHL and union have been critical of policies that gave them little access to its players during the Games. In addition, the NHL and its players receive no financial benefits from players' participation and the league has sought a share of revenues from such sources as video and photo images.
Fasel said last week the IIHF would like a decision to be made by May for marketing and planning purposes.
NHL players have participated in the last four Winter Games, but the league considers the long distance to Sochi and the fact that games would not be televised live during prime-time hours in North America to be drawbacks that would limit the potential gains of shutting down the league for two-plus weeks next February to let players represent their homelands.
"Yes, we had a good discussion over two days and we plan to touch base again next week," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Friday via email. "I think we are conceptually in agreement on the broader issues and concerns, and now we will try to work through the details on a more granular level."
Fasel, in a series of tweets on the IIHF's Twitter account, said he was satisfied with the two days of discussions.
"Meetings were held in a very constructive and positive atmosphere. All parties put all their concerns and issues on the table," he said. "Now all parties are going back to work on details in order to put together an agreement. Still lot of work to be done."
He added, "There is no deadline, but obviously we are under a certain time pressure. Olympics one year from now. I remain confident."
— Helene Elliott