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Ted Ligety

Ted Ligety came in fifth in the combined Tuesday in South Korea. The result is impressive for a 33-year-old, but Ligety won't be satisfied. After all, he won gold in the combined 12 years ago in Torino, despite having no major wins to his name at the time. Chloe Kim and Redmond Gerard were both 5 when Ligety claimed that first medal.

Kim and Gerard were still in diapers when Ligety got his first taste of the Olympic Games. In 2002, Ligety, a Salt Lake City native, was in his final year at The Winter Sports School in Park City while also skiing with the Park City ski team. Being a 17-year-old local, Ligety was chosen to help out with the area's first Olympics.

"I was really lucky," Ligety said before this year's Olympics on ThePostGame Podcast. "I was able to forerun the slalom there. The forerunner is basically the guinea pig. You go and test out the track right before the race starts. I was in the start with all of my heroes. That was a super cool experience."

Ligety wasn't chosen because he was a prodigy. His reward was due to perseverance more so than results.

"We picked Ted even though he wasn't the fastest guy," then-Park City head coach Rob Clayton told ESPN in 2014. "Because he was determined. And gritty. And it was a message to the other guys.

"It was a reward for the hard work. There were other guys who had better results and were faster skiers, but none of them had worked as hard as Ted."

He was just another kid at ski school, except one that was four years away from Olympic glory.

"Nobody had any clue who I was," Ligety remembers of his interactions with the Olympians. "As a forerunner, you're a nobody.

"At that point, I wasn't actually a rising star. The only reason I got that spot is because the better kids my age were actually at the World Junior Champions. I was actually only there by luck."

Ted Ligety

Ligety's parents gave him one year after graduation to advance his ski career or they were sending him to college. He made the U.S. Skiing Development Team and hit the pro circuit in 2004, the same year he won a silver medal at the Junior World Championships.

In 2005 Ligety finished 12th at the combined at the World Championships. In 2006, he was an Olympic gold medalist. From 2006-2015, Ligety finished no worse than 11th in the World Cup season standings, peaking at No. 3 in 2013. He finished as the No. 1-ranked skier in giant slalom five times and in combined once during that span. Ligety has also collected seven World Championship medals -- five gold -- and in 2014 in Sochi, he won a second Olympic gold medal in the giant slalom.

Ligety's 30s have not been as kind to him. He dropped off to 38th in the world standings in 2016 after tearing his ACL that January, ending his season early. In 2017, his season was again cut short for back surgery in January. Ligety missed his first World Championships since 2003.

Ligety has bounced back in 2018 with that perseverance that made him a forerunner 16 years ago. He entered the Olympics 38th overall in the standings, but eighth in giant slalom and 21st in combined. His fifth place finish in the combined in PyeongChang is a positive sign heading into his next three events: Slalom, giant slalom and super-G.

If the skiing world has learned anything over the last decade and a half, it's not to underestimate Ted Ligety.

Ligety spoke to ThePostGame on behalf of USOC sponsor Smucker's. For more, listen to ThePostGame Podcast with Ligety (in an episode also featuring Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin):

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