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Alpine Skiing Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 23:03 GMT
Picabo: An American star
Picabo Street strikes gold in the Super-G at Nagano
Streets ahead: Picabo en route to Olympic gold
BBC Sport Online reflects on the career of Picabo Street after she retires from competitive skiing.

To a nation that has a history of under-achieving in skiing events, Picabo Street became an important icon.

The American starlet sprang to fame in 1994 when she took silver in the Winter Games at Lillehammer.

Many tipped her to fade after that surprise appearance on the podium, but Street got quicker instead.

She won six downhill races during the 1994/95 World Cup season and took the overall title in style.

Picabo Street during practice ahead of the downhill
Street is popular on the circuit
Then, having picked up two medals at the 1996 World Championships, she inflated her reputation by winning the Olympic Super-G in Nagano.

In 1998 Street had to overcome a string of injuries - including a concussion suffered only two weeks previously - just to compete.

But, ever the plucky competitor, she pulled herself together and attacked the course from start to finish to edge out Austria's Michaela Forfeiter by one 100th of a second.

The American has not had things all her own way, however.

Twice she has been set back by serious skiing injuries that kept her out of action for long periods.

The most recent of these - a broken femur and torn cruciate ligament in the right knee - happened in a horrific crash at a World Cup race in March 1998.

After major surgery Street struggled for form throughout the season, and only just forced her way back into race contention ahead of her home Games.

Her poor performances in the super-G meant that she missed the cut for the US Olympic squad and the right to defend the title she worked so hard to win.

That cruel blow meant that in the downhill it would be a case of all or nothing.

Despite the form book suggesting otherwise, Street's name was repeatedly bracketed with the best in the world as a true challenger.

Picabo Street during her donwhill run at the Winter Olympics
Street in action for the last time
For a moment it seemed that she was about to justify the predictions.

Street gave her all and to the delight of the home crowds was up with the pace at the start of the run.

However, as the clock ticked on, the American's challenge began to fade and with it went the promise of one last glorious Olympic swansong.

Street may not have fulfilled her dream of becoming the first American woman to win three Olympic medals but she has earned a place in the hearts of her fans.

Her decision to leave on the greatest stage means that it is more likely that she will be remembered as one of the greats.

Her intoxicating personality, popularity on the circuit and sheer will to win assures her of that.

So does her extraordinary name.

Named by hippy parents after the childhood game 'peek-a-boo', Street's presence on the slopes will be sadly missed in America, and beyond.

See also:

12 Feb 02 | Alpine Skiing
Street hangs up her skis
12 Feb 02 | Alpine Skiing
Montillet takes gold
Links to more Alpine Skiing stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to more Alpine Skiing stories

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