Former U.S. ski racer Picabo Street's tale is detailed in a new Peacock documentary, co-directed and produced by ski racer Lindsey Vonn and Frank Marshall, a former vice president of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Photo courtesy of U.S. Ski and Snowboard
MIAMI, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Former U.S. ski racer Picabo Street, who overcame serious injuries to win gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics, expects a "different kind of champion" this winter in Beijing because of COVID-19's impact on athletic preparation.
"Adversity makes heroes," Street told UPI on Tuesday. "All of them have this radical chance right now to charge into games.
"I think it will be one of spiciest and most fun Olympics. That's why I'm like 'no drama'" outside of competition, she said. "There will be a lot of cool performance drama. Let's let that be the show."
The 2022 Winter Games air Feb. 2-20 on NBC, USA and CNBC. Coverage also will be available on Peacock, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. Nearly 3,000 athletes from more than 90 countries are expected to compete.
Street's tale from 1998 in Nagano, Japan, is detailed in the new Peacock documentary Picabo, co-directed and produced by ski racer Lindsey Vonn and Frank Marshall, a former vice president of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
The documentary was released Friday as part of a slate of Peacock documentaries that highlight Olympic triumphs amid adversity and scandal. Picabo spans from Street's unorthodox childhood in Idaho through her post-Olympic life, covering ill-timed injuries, Winter Games stardom and a 2015 arrest.
A trailer for the movie explains, "From her unorthodox childhood in Idaho to her Olympic successes, dramatic recoveries from ill-timed injuries and her arrest in 2015 due to false abuse allegations, the film provides an intimate look at Street's fascinating life through an emotional interview with Vonn and behind-the-scenes footage of Street's life."
Street said the documentary should encourage others.
"The spirit of the journey is what I want people to take away from it," Street, 50, said of Picabo. "It was therapy I needed. I didn't realize I was going to remember what a joyful journey I had through it until I watched the film. I got taken back."
Street endeared herself to fans as a fearless 5-foot-7 skier with confident banter to match her prowess on the slopes. She won her first Olympic medal with a second-place finish in the downhill at the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
She followed that silver medal run with the first World Cup skiing title in American history in 1995 en route to becoming the most dominant athlete in the sport.
Her historic run featured six consecutive World Cup downhill wins and nine overall World Cup victories.
She entered the 1998 Winter Games about a year after she sustained a serious knee injury from a crash and less than two weeks after a concussion. She unexpectedly won the gold in the Super-G, despite never winning the event on the World Cup circuit.
Street broke her left leg and tore a knee ligament a month after she won gold. She returned to ski racing in 2000, but retired after she finished 16th in the downhill at the 2002 Winter Games.
She lives with her family -- fiance Jake Shores and her three sons -- in Park City, Utah.
Peacock also premiered Meddling, which details the 2002 Olympic figure skating scandal, on Jan. 6. American Rock Stars, which follows the defending champion men's curling team to the 2022 Winter Games, premiered Wednesday.
Team USA led the Winter Olympic medal table just once since Street competed in 1998, with an Olympic-best 37 medals in 2010. Team USA finished fourth in total medals in 2018, behind Norway, Germany and Canada.
The Americans are not expected to be a top contender to lead in total medals won this year, but the varying degree of preparation allowed for athletes in their respective countries due to COVID-19-related closures and protocol could change those expectations.
"Some athletes will be methodical and tactical, and the pandemic disrupted it," Street said. "Other people will say this is a full clean slate, lots of people are off their game, and this is an opportunity to strike.
"It will all depend on how people look at it and go into it."
Street said she believes visualization exercises will be key for athletes who didn't get the expected repetitions in their respective sports over the last four years.
"The athletes who are strong and believe in their preparation, no matter a lot of it or a little, will be the ones that are going to shine," Street said.
"When they go back to neuro-experiences and try to teach people how to be strong mentally, visualization is such a huge part of it. ... Visualization can get you just as close. A lot of athletes got that visual preparation down to perpetuate their reputation when they couldn't actually physically do it.
"It's going produce a different kind of performance and maybe a different kind of champion. It will be fun to see who pops."
The 2022 Winter Games Opening Ceremony airs at 6:30 a.m. EST Feb. 4 on NBC and Peacock Premium.