Benjamin Raich

Benjamin Raich
AP

Benjamin Raich, two-time Olympic champion, retires from Alpine skiing

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Austrian Benjamin Raich announced his retirement from Alpine skiing Thursday, ending a career that included two Olympic gold medals, four overall Olympic medals, a World Cup overall title and more than 440 World Cup starts (a record) over 20 seasons.

”I don’t have the motivation anymore to go the limit and you need that in ski racing,” Raich, 37, said, according to The Associated Press.

Raich won the giant slalom and slalom at the Torino 2006 Winter Games, after taking bronze in the slalom and combined at Salt Lake City 2002. He also won seven individual World Championships medals.

He also won the World Cup overall title in 2006 during a stretch where he finished in the top three of the World Cup overall standings seven straight years.

Raich won 36 World Cup races since his 1996 debut, more than any other active men’s skier, his last win coming Feb. 25, 2012. He had not finished in the top five of any World Cup discipline standing since 2010.

Four other Austrian skiers retired during this offseason — Olympic medalists Nicole Hosp, Mario Matt, Andrea Fishbacher and Kathrin Zettel.

The 2015-16 Alpine skiing World Cup season begins Oct. 24 in Soelden, Austria.

MORE ALPINE SKIING: Upcoming milestones for Mikaela Shiffrin, Lindsey Vonn

Ted Ligety rallies to win Beaver Creek giant slalom (video)

Ted Ligety
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Ted Ligety won his first World Cup race this season, coming from behind to take a giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday.

The Olympic giant slalom champion, fourth after the first run, clocked a two-run time of 2 minutes, 34.07 seconds. He was .25 behind Austrian Benjamin Raich after the morning run and ended up winning by .18 over France’s Alexis Pinturault following the afternoon run. Austrian Marcel Hirscher was third.

“That first run was definitely difficult, didn’t feel like I got in the groove as much as I have in the past,” Ligety said. “Second run, I was confident I could ski the way I wanted to.”

Ligety, who won a Beaver Creek giant slalom for a fifth straight year, was skiing with four screws in his left hand after breaking his wrist in training Nov. 23.

He trained for one week without a ski pole and skipped last week’s World Cup stop in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“I don’t really think about my hand when I’m skiing,” said Ligety, who added he’s not taking any pain medication. “It doesn’t feel great, but it doesn’t really hurt that much.”

Ligety was off to a slow start this season before the injury, finishing 10th in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 26. Ligety had won in Soelden the previous three seasons. That 10th was Ligety’s best finish in four races this season before Sunday.

“After the first race, not doing as well as I wanted to, I was a little bit frustrated,” Ligety said. “That’s how it goes sometimes in ski racing.”

Ligety now has 24 World Cup wins, with 23 of them in giant slalom. He’s tied for the second-most World Cup giant slalom wins ever. Leader Ingemar Stenmark, the retired Swede, won twice as many.

Ligety said thinking of catching Stenmark is “a pipe dream.”

“Stenmark is so far away,” Ligety said. “He’s such a legend in the sport. I think what he’s done is pretty unattainable.”

The men’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues in Are, Sweden, with a giant slalom Friday and a slalom next Sunday.

Lindsey Vonn second in Lake Louise super-G

Austria missing a flag-bearer after Alpine skier Raich delays Sochi trip

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Austria is currently missing a flag-bearer for Friday’s Opening Ceremony for the Sochi Olympics.

The person previously at that post, Alpine skier Benjamin Raich (pictured), has instead delayed his trip to Sochi after choosing to skip the super combined event on Feb. 14 to set his sights completely on the giant slalom (Feb. 19) and slalom events (Feb. 22).

Raich was a double-gold winner at Torino in 2006, claiming both GS and slalom. He also has two other Olympic medals from Salt Lake City in 2002, both of them bronzes (combined and slalom).

“I will fully focus on the giant slalom and the slalom, so I will travel to Russia one week later than initially planned,” Raich said in a brief AOC statement.

However, lacking a flag-bearer should be a brief episode for Austria; the AOC says they’ll have a new one in place no later than Thursday.

Austria is sending its largest-ever Winter Olympics squad to Sochi with 130 athletes in all.