Picabo Street speaks at UNR function
RENO — Whether they stand on a podium or finish in last place, most Olympians usually find themselves in obscurity once they retire. Not Picabo Street.
The former gold medalist, who has worked commercials and as a broadcaster since retiring last year, was the guest speaker at the annual Salute To Champions banquet on Thursday evening at the Eldorado Hotel and Casino.
The always charismatic Street also celebrated her 32nd birthday yesterday. Her best gift was the opportunity to speak in front of several hundred people at the fund-raising event, which helps raise money for University of Nevada women’s athletic programs.
“Things like this are really important because I feel responsible as a role model,” said Street, considered the pioneer of women’s skiing in the United States. “Young ladies need to know it’s OK to pursue your dreams. I remember opening up my mother’s yearbook and not seeing a picture of one women’s athletic program. That to makes me want to cry. It’s sad.”
Street, who recovered from two serious injuries in 1996 and ’97, won the gold medal in the Super G at the ’98 Nagano Games. After racing in the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, she retired as our nation’s most accomplished women’s skier.
“Winning the gold medal was the greatest experience of my life. (But) retirement is great,” said Street, who has more than 10 career World Cup wins. “I honestly think what happened in Salt Lake was wonderful. Racing in front of an American crowd really kind of put the cherry on top for my career.”
Street has since become widely known as the ‘Chap stick girl’ because of her commercials promoting the product. Never one to shy away from the camera, Street also said she might have a future in broadcasting. Basically, the Sun Valley, Idaho native wants to always stay busy.
“You kind of get lost without that daily regimen,” Street said. “Anything to keep you busy because when you’re busy, you don’t have time to focus on the negatives. I think broadcasting could be a career for me. I’m comfortable in front of the camera. We’ll see how it ends up happening with that.”
Several awards were given out at the event. Eighth grader Jessell Owens of Winnemucca was given the Youth Champion Award. Owens, an outstanding swimmer, is an honor roll student as well as her school’s student body vice president.
The late Marce Herz and Hal Codding and Keston Ramsey shared Pride of Nevada honors with Link and Chet Piazzo, who ran a junior ski program out of The Sportsman for four decades. Herz, Codding and Ramsey started youth skiing programs as co-founders of the Sky Tavern Ski Program.