Like, wow: It's silver for Picabo LILLEHAMMER '94

February 20, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

RINGEBU, Norway -- She's the daughter of flower children from the 1960s.

Father Roland, a k a "Stubby," has a scrubby beard, a ponytail and an American flag draped over his back and wants to build pyramids that last forever.

"Cool," he says.

Mother Dee is a nature enthusiast who has packed her kids in a Toyota truck and hiked across most of North and Central America. She likes her kids to live off the land and has a 150-by-50-foot garden and eats a constant diet of broccoli and potatoes.

She'll take blue collar over white collar any day.

"Make sure you tell everybody that this fur [coat] I have on belongs to Baba's girlfriend's mother," said Dee. "I don't want people to see me on television and think I'm a hypocrite."

Baba, by the way, is her son.

They have a daughter named Picabo Street, 22, pronounced, yes, "Peek-a-boo," an Indian word that means "Silver Creek."

And yesterday, "Silver Creek" won a silver medal in the women's downhill race.

"How cosmic," said Dee.

"Cool," said Stubby.

Picabo Street, from Sun Valley, Idaho, was timed in 1 minute, 36.59 seconds to take second place behind overall World Cup points leader Katja Seizinger of Germany, who was timed in 1:35.93. Italy's Isolde Kostner won the bronze in 1:36.85.

Street's silver continued the United States' Alpine medal run with two golds and two silvers in the four events thus far.

But more interesting than the race was how Street got her first name. Until she was 3, Street was simply known as "Baby Girl" Street.

"We wanted something unusual, but we were going to wait until she was 6 so she could pick her own name," said Dee. "But when she was 3, we needed to get her a passport. She liked to play peek-a-boo, so that's what we named her.

"But before we named her, we went to the library and found out about an Indian town named Picabo, so we spelled it like that because we're third-generation Idahoans," she said.

Of course, Stubby thought the name was "cool."

But what did you expect? He has a daughter from a previous marriage named Sunny Main Street and once considered naming his son Juan Way Street.

"I want to be unique and original," said Stubby.

It was always kind of unique in the Street household. Stubby is a former marine who now builds houses.

"Can't build houses the same way they built pyramids," he says. "I'm behind my time."

Dee, now a secretary, stayed home with the kids, except when they traveled to Mexico, Belize or Guatemala.

"I think my parents let me do what I wanted to do," said Picabo. "I had a lot of freedom. [But] they taught me that when they stepped in and said no, they meant it. They were there to pick me up if I made a mistake or ran into a brick wall somewhere."

Picabo always lived dangerously, always had scratches and bruises, and got into fights with boys.

She fought for her life from the moment she was born.

"She was born at home and she had problems and started to turn blue," said Stubby, "but then she kicked in and fired up. She's always been a handful."

Like standing near the edge of a 10,000-foot mountain with no safety rail, or sticking half her body outside a car window while traveling 60 mph.

Kid stuff. Picabo was only 4.

But the Streets had their own form of discipline.

True story, from Stubby:

"When Picabo was about 3, we were in Mexico and we wouldn't let her go near the pool. But she went to the edge about three times. Finally, the person who invited us over grabbed her, took her to the bottom, and held her there for a couple of seconds close to his chest. He did this about five times.

"He then pulled her out of the water and spanked her butt. We had no more problems. I love that anonymous discipline. You know, actually I never thought Picabo would live through puberty. She has always been on the edge."

Picabo eventually directed her energy toward skiing. It was a hobby she learned from her father after he became involved in the sport after watching the 1960 Olympics.

Picabo became one of skiing's hottest prospects as a teen, but )) leveled off after injuring her left knee in a fall during a World Cup Super G in February 1989.

She almost quit the team, and eventually was sent home from the 1990 summer dry-land camp.

"I read all the stories about Picabo leaving the team, but people didn't realize that she was just a sophomore then, and didn't realize the commitment," said Baba, whose legal name is Robert Wayne Street III. "She didn't know anything, and was taken out of regular school so she could be on the ski team.

"But she came back, and what I admire about her is that she is feisty."

Picabo said: "I just decided I wanted to be a ski racer. It has its fun, but it's a job, too."

Since then Street has won two consecutive North American titles and moved up to the World Cup full-time for the 1993 season, taking a silver medal in the combined at the world championships and a second place in the World Cup downhill. She started the 1994 season ranked No. 6.

But yesterday, Street was nearly No. 1. The 5-foot-7, 143-pound farm girl, with the red hair and the lightly freckled face, surprised everyone, including herself. She just wanted to finish in the top five.

"I cleaned up some sections so well that I carried more speed into some other sections than I had anticipated," said Picabo. "I'm just happy with the fact that I could maintain it today. This is becoming the best day of my life."

It was a great day for her family, too. She had spoken with them before the race to get a vote of confidence, and turned to them seconds after her stunning time.

"She is not done yet. There is more to her plan," said Dee. "Remember, she has no fear, and she will want to go faster. You'll keep hearing the name Picabo for a long time."

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