Rarely do OIympians with great names fade away, and such is the case with skier Picabo Street. The gold medalist was announced as one of the first members of the Fox Sports 1 broadcast team, helping lead their coverage in skiing and other sports as the Sochi Games approach. Street won gold medals in super G at the 1998 Winter Olympics and in downhill at 1996 World Championships, along with three other Olympic and World Championship medals. She also won World Cup downhill season titles in 1995 and 1996, the first American woman to do so, along with a total of nine World Cup downhill race wins.
The now retired mother of two spends her time supporting the Olympic movement and recently became an advocate of a new program by Liberty Mutual which recognizes the most responsible everyday athletes across the country.
We caught up with Picabo to talk skiing, the Olympics, heroic acts, and Lindsay Vonn.
What are your thoughts on the skiing chances for the US in Sochi?
Based on current progress of team and depth, I am expecting great things, just like the rest of the country, and I am excited to be there for it. From an old teammate perspective, I really hope that Stacey Cook has a great Olympics – she has been at it for a long time.
The latest Lindsey Vonn crash has been overshadowed by her latest love interest, but it was pretty horrific. Do you have any worries that the speed in skiing these days is going to make safety an even bigger issue than ever before?
Lindsey’s crash was horrible; she is incredibly talented and can make a strong comeback. Balance between speed and safety has always been a fragile dance and will continue to be. Weather conditions can also play a major role in speed safety. But, it is more about the technology in the skis that I am concerned with. And for you up and coming athletes, it’s also important to follow the FIS (International Ski Federation) rules and to take precautions by wearing helmets and other safety equipment.
You are now removed from the sport competitively and are a mom…knowing what you know is the professional life something you would encourage your kids to do?
If my children get to a place where they may have a public image, I expect them to have their character developed enough to handle it. For now, I’m just enjoying being a mom spending time with my kids and watching them grow up. It’s important to let kids be kids and just play and have fun without the pressure of competition. They will grow up so fast.
We are in a world that’s all about access to athletes today, how important is social responsibility for an athlete?
I personally think that social responsibility for an athlete is the utmost importance and everything follows. To have the ability to make a positive or negative image is a big responsibility. It should be taken very seriously.
With all your accomplishments what stands out as the biggest personal one for you?
Winning the World Cup downhill title 2 years in a row – it wasn’t just one day it took all season to achieve. And of course, winning my gold medal was an amazing moment for me. Another part of my career that I hold close to my heart is the friendships that I made along the way. I got to meet so many talented and remarkable people from all over the world, and I was able to learn invaluable things about culture and companionship.
What was your biggest regret?
Any moment that I may want to regret, I can’t because it taught me something invaluable. It was always up to me to keep a positive attitude and work hard to achieve my goals. All of the challenges along the way helped shape me as an athlete and a person, and I’m very proud of my accomplishments and the person I have become.
This new program with Liberty Mutual will highlight the work of everyday youth athletes…tell us about that.
I have teamed up with Liberty Mutual Insurance to announce the search for 2013’s “Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments” – simple acts of sportsmanship and selflessness that occur on our youth sports fields. Now through 11/30, coaches and parents can submit a moment at ResponsibleSports.com or by tweeting a nomination using #RSMoments. The Top 10 Moments of 2013 will be chosen by a panel of sports experts, including myself and announced at the end of the year. Each of the ten organizations that are responsible for each Responsible Sports moment will receive a charitable donation of $1,000 from Liberty Mutual Insurance. It’s a great cause and one near and dear to my heart as a mother of four boys who love to play sports.
Are there athletes you like to single out as role models for kids?
Unfortunately not enough, but Misty-May Treanor pops into mind as someone who is a great model for kids today.
What does skiing need to do to grow its footprint even more as a brand outside of the Olympic window?
That’s a hard one. It is up to the individuals and the choices that they make in their lives. That is why I am so adamant about athletes being responsible and taking their role model status seriously, not only on the slopes, but off as well. Even though it doesn’t seem that long ago, it’s so much different now than when I was competing. Everything someone says and does is scrutinized online and via social media – it’s even more important to present yourself appropriately and tastefully.