"Merde!" Bouvier said and walked away. Europeans adore her even more than American busboys do. The German Swiss call her Ein Verrücktes Huhn (One Crazy Red Hen). She's Sommersprossiger Düsenjäger (the Freckled-face Jet Fighter Pilot) to the Austrians. But it was Tomba's countrymen who elected Street the prom queen for their eternal high school hero. In Bormio at the World Cup final last March, a banner read PICABO E TOMBA: BELLI E INVINCIBLI. Beautiful and invincible.
"I respect Bert so much," Street says. "I mean, like, he's the only person I can talk to about certain stuff. I see him and it's like, 'What up, bud?' I pay close attention to how he deals with the media. He does little things, like ducking his head during interviews to make sure his sponsor's logo gets in the pictures. I take notes whenever I'm around him. Yeah, Bert's a little excessive. You won't see pictures of my bare ass in a magazine...."
Skim these pages all you like: no ski bums here.
Picabo isn't happy. She might be America's skiing sweetheart, but that doesn't guarantee her a date on Saturday night. She says her boyfriend, Joey Hoesh-mann, a skier on the Canadian developmental team, recently dumped her. If she were less sure of herself, if she possessed a drop of guile, Street would say they agreed to split up or her schedule doesn't permit a social life or, hey, isn't that Bormio a killer course? No. Dumped is dumped. Street has an astonishing streak of frankness, an admirable quality but not always a virtue.
"Joey wants to build something from nothing, doesn't want to go along for my trip," Street says. "He says he can't be enough of a man's man around me. I'm the one who's become independently wealthy. If I want to take off for an NFL game on a weekend, if I want to slip across the country to a NASCAR race, if Nike's sending a limo over, that's all my stuff."
"Look at her schedule," interrupts Stubby, her father. "Appearances, speeches, photo shoot for Vogue. No wonder her boyfriend bailed."
Street, 24, faces the problem of many strong, successful women: She can scare the hell out of people, especially those of the opposite sex. This concerns her parents, who have nurtured her independence and produced a daughter who is genetically incapable of winning quietly.
"We want the person she beats not to hate her," Picabo's mother, Dee, says.
"We don't want it to be lonely at the top," Stubby says.
But Street was lonely even before she stood on the top step of the podium. She has formed a loose sorority of stars with Pernilla Wiberg, the top Swede, and Seizinger, but toward U.S. teammates—the women she travels with half the year—she is more circumspect. "Tomba had to be separated from the Italian team because they'd be having lunch after training and some kid who'd really had a hot morning would be talking about it, and Tomba'd say, 'This afternoon I'll beat you by two seconds,' " Major says. "And Tomba would. The kid's confidence would be destroyed. Picabo's not in that situation, but she's elevated herself above the women's circuit, and people who compete against her don't like that." She and Lindh, who won two of the three 1994-95 downhills that Street didn't, have a tense relationship. In a rare moment of discretion Street declines to discuss her teammates. "It might come through as egotistical," she says. "I just try to keep my scene out of their faces."