Just as there are people who are born to be called Rodney or Edith or Amber, she is a natural-born Picabo even though it took awhile to get there. She was born at home and named Baby Girl Street. Passport officials preferred something less generic, so Dee and Stubby renamed her after a nearby Idaho town, Picabo, which her parents were told means "shining waters" in the language of the Sho-Ban, the Native American tribe that once inhabited the region. If that sounds off-the-wall, you haven't met the first Street child, originally Baby Boy, then dubbed Baba Jomo (Stubby also pushed for Juan Way Street). Picabo already has a name picked out for a daughter, if she has one—Ayla. "From Clan of the Cave Bear" Picabo says. "Strong women who did what men did."
Baby Girl was riding trains in Central America when she was three. Dee and Stubby took their children places, taught them things Kermit the Frog couldn't. They also grew their own food and chopped wood back home. The Bormio course was no more terrifying than having to fight off a white leghorn rooster with a pitchfork when gathering eggs. There were periodic boxing matches with neighborhood boys, and four or five of the teeth in that smile that illuminates skiing aren't her own. There was no TV at home until she was 14. "Kids would ask, 'Do you have a doll?' " Street says. "I'd say, 'No, I have a BB gun.' "
Major met Picabo in Park City, Utah, when she was 14, watching a race. "You can't help but notice someone named Picabo," Major says. For a dozen years they have moved through the U.S. skiing hierarchy on parallel tracks. Major has been her coach, her prod, her guardian angel.
Once a fellow coach told him, "She'll never win. She can't follow the rules."
"That's why she will win," Major replied.
"I get to stretch the rules because I am special," Street says, unboastfully, "not because I wanted to be special. I've shown that on the mountain. Rules are obstacles, things that get in the way of where I want to go."
"At first I didn't know whether she was a blockhead," Major says. "She's not. She's stubborn, but she's street-smart, and she reads people better than anyone I've been around.
"The pattern with Picabo was the phenomenon of the wunderkind. Picabo burst onto the ski team with natural talent. She threw herself down the hill. No obstacles. But she relied on natural talent to keep her on the team. She didn't know the stakes had been raised. She didn't push herself. She wasn't conditioned well enough. She was rebelling, asking why should she conform."
The answer came in July 1990, when Major kicked her out of a training camp in Park City because she was in such sorry shape that she could not complete simple drills without pain. He feared she would hurt herself skiing.
Picabo returned to Idaho but didn't tell her parents, who were living in Hawaii at the time, what had happened. She bunked with David and Donna Timmons, parents of her best friend, Tiffany, who was home on summer break from the University of Northern Arizona. They shared a bathroom. They shared their feelings. Picabo didn't know what she wanted. Her brain was overloaded with coaches telling her what to do, what time to get up, what time to train, what to eat. She had lost control. She was scared.