Picabo Street US Olympian Speed Skier

Picabo Street

United States National Ski Team

Picabo Street's name is synonimous with alpine skiing. Italy has Alberto Tomba. The U.S. has Picabo Street. Picabo's inspiration comes from her love of speed. She's been addicted to speed since early childhood. This has made her the champion skier that she is today.

She joined the U.S. Junior Team when she was 15 years old and after just 2 years, had captured her first titles in U.S. Junior Downhill and Super G. In 1993, Picabo won the gold medal in the Super G at the U.S. Championships. From there, she entered the World Cup competiton and took the ski world by storm.

In 1995, Picabo won six of nine World Cup competitions. This was the first time in 11 years that any American woman skier had even won a World Cup title. She won three more titles in 1996. Picabo was well on pace to win Olympic Gold. Next stop: Nagano, Japan.

However, just like the ski slopes where she's made her fame, the path to success has been full of obstacles which Picabo has conquered like the true champion that she is. Following a horrific crash during a practice run in Vail, Colorado, Picabo embarked on a grueling 14 month rehabilitation. She tore both the anterior crucial and medial collateral ligaments in her left knee. These ligaments keep the knee from moving the wrong way. An injury of this magnitude is especially devastating for a skier.

However, Picabo set her sights on a return to competition. A return to skiing would be a major coupe in itself, but Picabo returned in her full championship form in time for the 1998 Winter Olympic Games hosted in Nagano, Japan. She returned to the slopes in a World Cup competition in Are, Sweden. However, this was the location for even more tough luck for Picabo as she suffered a concussion from another crash at 75mph. Despite the headaches from her concussion, Picabo went to the Olympics and won the Gold medal in the Super G by beating Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister by one-hundredth of a second.

A few weeks later, on March 13, 1998 during the World Cup Finals at Crans Montana, Switzerland, Picabo broke her left leg (yes, the same as before) and tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and lateral meniscus in her right knee. Surely, this was the end of Picabo Street's stunning career. Wrong. This remarkable young woman was even more determined than ever to return to skiing. After two more years of surgeries and rehab, Picabo again returned to competition.

Making her second miraculous comeback in St. Moritz, Switzerland December 2000, Street finished 24th in the Downhill competition earning her first World Cup points in nearly two years. She competed in National and World Cup competitions leading up to the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Picabo announced that the 2002 Olympics would be her last competition and then she would enter into retirement from competitive skiing. The stage was certainly set for an exciting finish to one of the greatest careers in Alpine Skiing history. However, weather conditions on the course did not bode well for late number competitors in the Downhill competition. As the 26th racer to run the course, Street did not win a medal, finishing 16th overall.

Regardless of a non-medal Olympic performance in her hometown, Picabo Street has won plenty of medals to put her name in the history books. Her performance on the slopes is impressive enough, but her determination to overcome the tragic events in her career are an inspiration to anyone who knows her story. For this reason, Picabo Street is a REAL WOMAN IN SPORTS.