Street, Picabo

Street, Picabo
▪ 1997

      Carving a name for herself on the international slopes of professional skiing, a 25-year-old American with the singular moniker Picabo Street entered the 1996-97 World Cup season as the two-time defending champion of the downhill event. Noted for her natural talent and easygoing charm, Street became one of the leading figures of the sport, both in the U.S. and abroad. She first skied to stardom with silver medals in the combined event (slalom and downhill) at the 1993 world Alpine ski championships in Morioka-Shizukuishi, Japan, and in the downhill at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. During an extraordinary 1994-95 season, Street captured six downhill victories in nine races on the World Cup circuit to become the first non-European ever to win the downhill title. She repeated as the World Cup downhill champion in 1995-96, adding three more circuit victories, as well as first- (downhill) and third-place (supergiant slalom) finishes at the world Alpine ski championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain. She capped the season in March with two gold medals (downhill and supergiant slalom) at the U.S. Alpine ski championships in Sugarloaf, Maine. In December, however, she suffered a knee injury that required surgery and put her out of competition for the remainder of the 1996-97 season.

      Street was born on April 3, 1971, in Triumph, a small town in Blaine county, Idaho. The sole girl among eight children, she was called Baby Girl for three years by her counterculture parents before they settled on Picabo (pronounced "peek-a-boo"), naming her after a nearby town known by the American Indian word for "shining waters." Also in the county was Sun Valley, the ski resort where Street at age six first began racing. She developed into a junior champion at the regional and then national level, making the world junior championship team twice, in 1989 and 1990.

      Taking herself to the next level of competition proved to be an uphill battle for the downhill speedster. She was asked to leave the U.S. ski team during the summer of 1990 for poor conditioning and attitude. Committing herself anew, she rejoined the national squad on the B-team and in 1993 posted several high finishes in World Cup races, captured a silver medal at the world Alpine ski championships, and placed first (supergiant slalom), second (combined), and third (downhill) at the U.S. Alpine ski championships. For her efforts she was rewarded with a position on the U.S. A-team and was named Ski Racing U.S. Alpine Skier of the Year—an honour she revisited in 1995 and 1996; in 1995 she also won Ski Racing International Alpine Skier of the Year.

      (TOM MICHAEL)

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▪ American athlete
born April 3, 1971, Triumph, Idaho, U.S.

      American Alpine skier who was one of the most successful downhill skiers of the 1990s. Street earned two World Cup downhill titles (1994–95 and 1995–96), and, noted for her natural talent and easygoing charm, she became one of the most popular figures of the sport, both in the United States and abroad.

      The sole girl among eight children, she was called Baby Girl for three years by her counterculture parents before they settled on Picabo (pronounced "peek-a-boo"), naming her after a nearby town known by an American Indian word for "shining waters." Also nearby was Sun Valley, the ski resort where Street at age six first began racing. She developed into a national junior champion, but reaching the next level of competition proved to be an uphill battle for the downhill speedster. She was asked to leave the U.S. ski team during the summer of 1990 for poor conditioning and attitude.

      Committing herself anew, Street rejoined the national squad and in 1993 posted several high finishes in World Cup races, including a silver-medal performance at the world Alpine ski championships. She earned a silver medal in the downhill at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. During an extraordinary 1994–95 season, Street captured six downhill victories in nine races on the World Cup circuit to become the first non-European ever to win the downhill title. She repeated as the World Cup downhill champion in 1995–96, adding three more circuit victories as well as first- (downhill) and third-place (supergiant slalom) finishes at the world Alpine ski championships.

      In December 1996, however, Street suffered a serious knee injury that required surgery and put her out of competition for the remainder of the 1996–97 season. She returned to the slopes for the 1997–98 season and surprised many when she won the supergiant slalom at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. Her gold-medal victory was by the slimmest margin (0.01 sec) in the history of Olympic Alpine competition.

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Universalium. 2010.

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