United States' Ted Ligety celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's giant slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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American Ted Ligety turned a relaxing mountain descent into a white-knuckle ride to gold Wednesday when he held off two charging Frenchmen to claim the Olympic giant slalom title.French duo Steve Missillier and Alexis Pinturault roared into medal contention with their second runs before Ligety, the last of the top 30 to go, blasted out of the starting gate.Another mistake would have been calamitous but Ligety regained his rhythm to seal gold, 0.48 seconds ahead of silver medalist Missillier and 0.64 in front of Pinturault.Ligety's victory gave the U.S. its first Alpine skiing gold of these Games while France celebrated its first medals of any color on the slopes of Rosa Khutor.Ligety came to the Games as the United States' big medal hope in the men's events after his three golds at last year's world championships.
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