Early in the winter of 2002, Picabo Street said she had had enough. “Once you’re afraid of speed and have the least hesitation about committing yourself to going as fast as you can to try to win, you might as well not be out there.” Thus did the best female downhiller of her generation step away from the sport that made her famous.
Fast forward to mid-February 2019 to the press conference that Lindsey Vonn held in Are, Sweden, after crashing off course in a super-G race at the Alpine Ski World Championships. “I said to myself, ‘Why am I here in the fence again? I’m getting too old for this —-.’ ”
It was kind of a joke for the packed postrace press conference, but what Vonn said a little later was no joke at all. Irreparable injuries were forcing Vonn to retire from ski racing. “If I hadn’t met Picabo Street when I was 9 years old,” Vonn said, “I wouldn’t be here at all. She was my hero and mentor.”
The 34-year-old Colorado woman who for a couple of years became known in wider sports circles as Tiger Woods’ girlfriend also became known as the all-time winningest female ski racer in history.