'Little Girl' Street was born on April 3rd, 1971 in Triumph, Idaho. The sole girl-child of eight children born to hippies Dee and Stubby Street, they chose not to name their baby girl so that she could choose a name herself, and called her 'Little Girl' instead. When she was two, a trip to Mexico necessitated a passport, though passport authorities refused to process the document until she had a 'proper name'. Stubby and Dee chose Picabo, the name of a nearby town, Picabo, Idaho, which means 'shining waters'. They gave Picabo the choice when she was four to change her name, but she decided to stick with it.
Picabo lived with her family on a small farm in Triumph, and was skiing nearby at Sun Valley from an early age. Even as a child, she showed an indomitable spirit. When she got in trouble, her parents wouldn't spank her, but have her stand on tip-toe facing the wall until she asked to stop... the problem was, she never asked. By the time she was six, she was racing. Soon, she was a junior racing champion, leaving the competition in the powder. At 17, she joined the U.S. Ski team in 1989.
Picabo rocketed to American atheletic stardom when she won the silver in downhill at Lillehammer in 1994. In 1995 she won the first World Cup downhill series title ever captured by an American female, then she repeated that in 1996. In late '96 she ripped her knee apart, requiring reconstructive surgery, and keeping her out of competition for a year. In preparation for the competition at Nagano, Japan, while she was still unable to ski, she went down the mountain on her coach's back, so she could 'get a feel for it' and mentally prepare. After months of rehabilitation and training, she returned to competition. In 1998 at Nagano, still feeling the effects of a concussion she suffered only two weeks before, Picabo won the Super G (the weaker of her two events) and walked away with the gold. Her one regret from the games, however, was that she had to pass up the carrying of the American flag for the US team at the opening ceremony because she was concerned about her ability to do so because of her recent concussion... she said she cried for three days at the disappointment for having to bow out.
Picabo continued to compete after Nagano, but on Friday the 13th in March of '98, she crashed again. Now keep in mind, when this girl crashes, she's crashing at seventy miles per hour. When she came to a stop that day, she first thought she was paralyzed. Not only did she break her left leg, but devastated the torn ligaments in her right knee kept her out of competition for two seasons.
Picabo has never been one to be shy or hold her tongue... she has 'girl next door' good looks, complete with freckles and an engaging smile, which makes her a darling in the fickle American eye. Here are some quotes of note on the upcoming games in Park City, Utah, where Picabo calls home:
Q: I've read about past problems you've experienced internally on the women's ski team. What do you think about women as competitors? Do you think they are a savvy at being competitive as men are or are they more petty?
Picabo: I think women are petty, pushy and they hold grudges. I think that our emotions are a rollercoaster and it tends to lend to catfights and fighting over stupid things. A lot of women don't know how to vent and deal with emotions.
Every woman has them (emotions) and they try to deny them like, oh no, I'm not an emotional woman. It's like, hey, wait, you have them and you need to deal with them. They don't know that crying is a way of venting and getting rid of unnecessary energy and tension. They think, oh god, I'm being feeble and emotional and I don't want to cry, so they push it away. When really, they should just cry and get it out. Then they could bring a much more peaceful being to the show.
I've had to do that all my life because my energy is way, way overwhelming.
(This, by the way, is what she did when she didn't qualify for the Super G for the games this year... right in front of everybody.)
Q: Was it hard to see your rivals succeed? (On not qualifying for the Super G)
Picabo: No, it wasn't. I don't know if it's just me or everyone, but the whole vibe with skiing is not so much thriving on competition against others as it is against myself and the clock. I don't look at it like that's my rival and I have to beat her. It's more like, I have to ski this as fast as I can and the fastest of everyone out here and that's what I expect.
I've got as good a chance as anybody at taking the gold. It's in my back yard. I'm comfortable. I couldn't ask for anything more.
In her autobiography, Picabo: Nothing to Hide, she encourages girls to be achievers:
I learned what all girls need to learn: that you can kick ass, and you should never be ashamed of it.
Picabo herself doesn't know whether or not this will be her last competition. At the age of thirty, she's the oldest member of the team. Regardless, she has big plans in the near future. In August of last year, John Mulligan, a ski technician proposed to her and they're planning a wedding in the fall. On the 11th, Picabo will be racing in the downhill, and she's committed to pulling out all the stops. She has said time and again that she has nothing to lose, and it will no doubt be something to see.
Even if she doesn't medal, Picabo has her sights on a very different goal. She wants to carry the American flag at the opening ceremonies, the opportunity she had to pass up at Nagano... she'll find out Thursday night, just a day before the event...
I hope I'm the one they see fit to carry it. It could certainly be the greatest moment in my career. I'm that patriotic.
Damn... you go 'Little Girl'!!
As it turns out, she didn't get to carry the flag, but she did get to carry the torch around the arena... She also didn't medal, but came in sixteenth, but afterwards announced to the crowd that it was the best run of her career..