Top 13 U.S. Winter Olympians
These athletes took home gold, but also stole our hearts. Choose your favorite winter Olympian in our poll
- By Megan Gambino
- Smithsonian.com, January 19, 2010
Picabo Street (Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images)
Named after an Idaho town (not the game peek-a-boo), Picabo Street started ski racing at the age of six. In 1989, at age 17, she made the U.S. Ski Team, and after briefly being kicked off for too much partying and too little conditioning, she came to dominate the sport. In 1994, she took silver at the Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, and in 1995, she became the first American skier to win the World Cup, a title she defended the following year. But nobody knows the agony and ecstasy of the sport quite like Picabo. In 1996, she experienced her first in a series of injuries, a torn left ACL. Recovery was slow, but she started skiing again just a couple months before the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, where she eked out a gold in the super giant slalom. Later that season, she lost control in a race and crashed into a fence at 70 miles per hour, breaking her left femur and tearing her right ACL. Street returned to racing after two years of rehabilitation, but finally hung up her skis after finishing 16th in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.