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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Ted Ligety of Park City, Utah, gave the U.S. ski team its biggest moment of the Sochi Games on Wednesday and entered Olympic lore by winning the gold medal in the giant slalom at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.

Ligety roared out of the first run with a 0.93-second lead that no one could catch. He posted a cumulative time of 2:45.29 to finish 0.48 seconds ahead of silver medalist Steve Missillier of France. Another Frenchman, Alexis Pinturault, won the bronze.

Ligety is the second American to win two Olympic gold medals in skiing, joining Andrea Mead Lawrence, who won gold in the slalom and giant slalom at the Oslo Games in 1952.

Ligety has been one of America's best skiers for eight years but has been in the shadow of stars Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn.

"It was a huge relief," said Ligety, 29, who won his first gold in 2006 in the combined. "All season long, everybody talks about the Olympics, Olympics, Olympics. At a certain point, I was just like, 'Let's do it already. Let's get this thing over with, so we can stop talking about the pressure and everything with it.' So it's awesome to finally do it and get the monkey off the back."

His victory gives the U.S. team four medals with the men's and women's slalom races coming. Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin are expected to be in the running for medals in both of those events.

Ligety used a perfect first run to open a wide lead, then protected that with a conservative second run that was only 14th-fastest down the Rosa Khutor course in more comfortable conditions than the fog, rain and sleet of a day earlier.

"His first run was flawless, free. He trusted himself. It was his signature skiing," U.S. men's head coach Sasha Rearick said. "The second run was a strategic chess match, which he executed brilliantly."

San Jose native Tim Jitloff finished 15th with a time of 2:47.13, while Jared Goldberg of Salt Lake City was 19th. After winning a bronze medal last weekend, Miller was 20th.

Miller, 36, said he hurt his left knee during the super G, the race he got his sixth Olympic medal. He will not enter the slalom.

"Managing it has been the biggest challenge, coming back from injury," he said. "Your body, when you go off snow for a while, doesn't like getting back into it."

Miller said he changed equipment because of a crash he had last month. "It's been maintaining some pretty good puffiness in there through this whole couple weeks," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.