Growing up a tomboy in the defunct mining town of Triumph, Idaho, not far from Sun Valley, this 30-year-old downhiller is skiing’s reigning queen of “last runs.” In a bumpy yet triumphant 14-year U.S. Ski Team career,
seems to have embarked on many of them.
Despite injuries and setbacks, she always battles back. Known for speaking her mind and doing it quickly, Picabo has just written a tell-all book on the eve of her comeback for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics (Nothing To Hide, with Dana White, Contemporary Books). Here’s a look at what Picabo has to say as she makes her very last run at a third Olympic medal.
Born April 3, 1971
Early Triumph “Our home was an old mining cabin with plastic taped over the windows. I grew up a poor kid in a rich man’s sport, a girl among boys, a free spirit among hard asses, an American in a sport ruled by Europeans.”
The Breaks Booted off the U.S. Ski Team twice in the early Nineties, Picabo battled back to dominate women’s downhill. Then her career came to an abrupt halt on Pepi’s Face in Vail in December 1996, where she tore knee ligaments. After rigorous rehab, she returned¿miraculously¿to win a gold medal in the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Then she crashed again, just weeks later in Switzerland, and this time it was much more serious.
After The Fall “My fracture was the worst Dr. Richard Steadman had seen in 27 years of treating major ski injuries.”
Getting Over The Hump Picabo disappeared for about a year. “I felt like a dirtbag. I stayed in my room and cried and shook my fist at the unfairness of it all.”
Final Comeback When Picabo rejoined the World Cup in December 1998, she called herself “a rookie with baggage.” She struggled, and by spring she was demoted to the Europa Cup. “Now, I’m really slumming it, I thought. My teammates were teenagers. I felt like the chaperone at a slumber party.”Rejuvenation Shocking her competitors, Picabo came from literally nowhere last March to win the season-ending downhill against a world-class field on the Olympic course at Snowbasin, Utah, putting “Olympic favorite” beside her name once again. “I was probably the only woman who wished the season could keep going. I left the season hungry, and humble pie was not on the menu.”