KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- He hoisted the white skis that just carried him to victory high over his head, then spread his arms wide.
The celebratory "V" he inadvertently formed nicely encapsulated Ted Ligety's historic day.
The 29-year-old American, taking advantage of the perfect conditions these 2014 Winter Games had lacked until Wednesday, captured the gold medal in his pet discipline, the giant slalom.
In doing so, Ligety became the first American to win the event, which demands both speed and technical savvy, and the first male U.S skier to earn more than one Olympic gold.
Andrea Mead Lawrence won two women's events at Oslo in 1952.
"This is my first gold medal since 2006," said Ligety, "but it was easier back then (at Turin). I was only 21 and I didn't have all these struggles."
He was referring to his subpar performances in the super-combined (12th) and super-G (14th) earlier in these Games, failures he blamed in part on slushy conditions at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.
"The combined definitely was disappointing," said Ligety, a resident of Park City, Utah, "mostly because I could have skied a lot faster. In the super-G, I skied great but I made one big mistake."
He made none on Wednesday, building a first-run lead of nearly a second. He pulled back slightly in his second trip down the hill, finishing with a combined time of 2:45.29.
"If I hadn't had that buffer, it would have been tough to really throw it down as hard as you possibly could," he said. "I felt like maybe I backed off in some places too much. But I did what I knew I needed to do."
His time was 0.48 better than silver-medalist Steve Missillier of France (2:45.77).
Ligety's better-known U.S. teammate, 36-year-old Bode Miller, finished 20th in what almost certainly was his final Olympic appearance.
Miller has a U.S.-record six Olympic medals.
Despite his problems here, Ligety's victory was no surprise. He was the World Cup giant-slalom leader this season as well as its 2013 world champion.
As soon as Ligety crossed the finish line and spotted the "1" next to his name, he knew he'd triumphed. He did a 360-degree spin that delighted the large and noisy crowd, raised his arms and screamed.
Soon he found teammates to hug and Alex Hoedlmoser, a U.S. coach, to embrace.
"Ted trusts his own instruction," said Hoedlmoser. "He trusts himself. There have been lots of years of hard work, continually working day in and day out to get better."