Salt Lake City, UT, Oct. 26, 2001–Reigning Olympic super G champion Picabo Street (Park City, UT) tries to streamline her mental preparation forracing, but she also conceded Friday she has a few superstitions.
In the opening press conference for the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit at the Grand America Hotel, Street, 30, told several hundredjournalists she has names for special skis and, among other things, she carries a pin from the 421st Tactical Fighter Wing at nearby Hill AFB,which gave her a ride in a fighter jet after her gold medal in 1998, not just because she was the Olympic champion but also because she hadtaken part in a special Air Force promotional program. The pin, she said, has taken on even more meaning since the attacks of Sept. 11 inNew York and Washington, D.C.
Just back from a training camp that extended over glaciers above Zermatt, Switzerland, and Pitztal, Austria, the director of skiing for Park CityMountain Resort said she was feeling fine and was anxious to get racing; “the stronger I feel, the faster I get,” Street said. Her first World Cupstart this season is expected to be Nov. 29 at Lake Louise in western Canada — where, coincidentally, she won her first World Cup downhillearly in the 1995 season.
She’s anxious to race, Street repeated, but she also finds times when she’s not as confident nor as aggressive as she was before aDecember 1996 training crash in Vail that tore her left ACL, the pre-Olympic concussion in Are, Sweden, in January 1998 or the Friday the 13thcrash during World Cup Finals in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, a month after her Olympic title when she shattered her left femur and tore herright ACL. “My brain is sometimes still taking its time. There are times I find myself second-guessing myself when I roll into a turn,” she toldthe gathering.
Street, who already has a gold medal from 1998 and Olympic silver from ’94, also repeated earlier statements about this being her finalseason, she would be ecstatic with a medal of any color (“I want success and success means a medal”), and, having had to pass on thehonor at Nagano in 1998 because of a pre-Olympic concussion she suffered in a racing crash in Are, Sweden, she still is hopeful of beingchosen by all U.S. national teams to carry the American flag in the Olympic Opening Ceremonies Feb. 8 in Salt Lake City.
“I’m superstitious,” she acknowledged in response to a question about good luck charms, pre-race rituals or superstitions, “but I don’t like toomany complications around my program.”
She said one set of skis is her “Earnies,” so named in tribute to the memory of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, who died earlier this year andwas one of her favorite individuals because of his toughness and relentless push for success; another set is her “Olys,” the Rossignols sheused to win Olympic downhill silver in 1994, World Championships gold and super G bronze in 1996, and her Olympic gold medal in the ’98super G in Japan. She calls one pair her “Willys” for when she has to will something to happen. And another pair is her “Ah-nolds,” so namedfor the strength, power and toughness of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Physically, I’m doing really well. I’m being a good girl,” she said, indicating she was keeping a tighten rein on her training instead of tryinganything rambunctious. “I keep Dr. Richard Steadman’s voice about caution in the forefront of my consciousness.”