The scene recently shifted from her parents' home near Sun Valley, Idaho, to Portland, which, as far as anyone can figure, is a suburb of Nike. Street recently signed on with the new Nike Sports Management group, whose client list of 15 is short but luminous: Deion Sanders, Ken Griffey Jr., Scottie Pippen, Alonzo Mourning, etc. Street is the only woman. "She's almost like Charles Barkley," Nike Sports Management marketing manager Greg Anderson says. "We think she has the potential to be as large as any female athlete out there."
Street is a magnet for girls, who look at the strawberry-blonde braid, the freckles, the moon face, and see an older version of themselves. She gravitates to kids and kids to her. Leno and Letterman wanted her when Street returned from the Lillehammer Olympics with a silver medal. But instead of The Tonight Show, Picabo appeared on American Gladiators and Sesame Street. "We said to hell with Letterman and Leno," Stubby says. "We don't need any late-night, white, yuppie humor. By the 2002 Olympics, the people watching Leno will be in rest homes. Picabo talked to the kids. They'll be the mainstream."
Right now Street is mainstreaming in her new three-bedroom house on the edge of Portland. There is a circular driveway, a stand of Douglas firs, an Australian cattle dog named Duggan, a hot tub. The house whispers affluence but screams permanence for a woman who was bundled up in a Volkswagen bus by her parents and taken on road trips around the West when she was five weeks old and who spends winters in the center ring of the itinerant Great White Circus. Last summer Dee moved from Idaho to Portland temporarily to get her daughter established. Stubby, a mason, visits periodically to help out now that he has reconciled with Dee after pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge last year. When Picabo moved in, she at last had everything she needed, except someplace to sit.
So on a brilliant day in September she buzzed the furniture stores. Street shops the way she skis, making snap decisions at 70 mph. She delays nothing, especially gratification. "I always told Picabo that one day the money would be spent and the trophies would be dusty, and if she hadn't had a good time, she would've screwed up," Stubby says. "Like Ginger Baker [drummer for the rock group Cream] said, 'You gotta go where you want to go, do what you want to do.' " On a sprint through her third store, Street said to no one in particular, "I want it all, and I want it now."
She finally found her chairs, matching green leather recliners. The salesman gave her a spiel about credit and layaway, but Street lays away nothing. She wrote a check and then bolted to look at a lamp.
"Picabo?" the chair salesman called.
"Yeah," she said, turning around.
His removed his hands from in front of his face and gave her a dopey look: peekaboo! "Sorry," he said. "I had to do that."
Street grimaced. But she kept the chairs.
Suppose Dee and Stubby had called their daughter Nancy or Jane. Would she have been a champion? Would kids or Nike love her less?