For the first three years of her life, she was named Baby Girl Street. Then her parents wanted to travel out of the country, so — finally — they named their daughter after a nearby town in central Idaho.
Yes, Picabo Street was memorable for her unique name. And soon she was memorable for how fast she skied down the mountain, always trying to beat her older brother.
“I’d try to ride up the lift fast so I could ski down faster the next time,” Street said.
There were some rough moments in Street’s skiing career. While she debuted on the U.S. Ski Team at age 17, the next year she was kicked off the team for being out of shape. It took two years for Street to return to top form on the slopes.
Street was back competing in World Cup events in 1993 and the following year, at the Lillehammer 1994 Olympic Winter Games, she won a silver medal in the women’s downhill race.
Street enjoyed success over the next two years, but in 1996 tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during a training run. She recovered in time to compete in the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games, but crashed in her final tuneup race, sustaining a concussion.
Still, when the spotlight came on, there was Street, speeding down the mountain to win a gold medal in the Super-G.
“I’m probably expected to say that the best moment in my career was when that gold medal was placed around my neck in Nagano, because it was a unique experience,” Street said. “I have to admit that even though the gold was incredible, the stuff dreams are made of, the silver medal I received in Lillehammer occupies a special place in my heart, because it was my first Games. … I wasn’t expected to get a medal; I was really just there to take part, to feel that nervous energy, to savor the experience. And then, much to my and everyone else’s surprise, I ended up on the podium. That’s why it was so special to me.”
One month after claiming gold in the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games, Street suffered another serious injury, breaking her left leg. Once again, she came back, qualifying for the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games, although she did not win a medal.