She's tackled some of the biggest slopes and toughest competitors, but now Picabo Street is taking on a new cause: Parental behavior in youth sports.
The former Olympic champion skier is joining forces with an initiative by Liberty Mutual to encourage better behavior in youth sports by parents and coaches.
"I have four boys, so I have a vested interest in the coaches out there and parents' behavior out there," she said. "In ski racing, we don't have a lot of sideline grandstanding ... it's too fast and too cold and stuff, so that whole realm (of parental involvement in their kids teams) was new and foreign to me."
A survey by Liberty Mutual, taken as part of the Responsible Sports project, found that there was a deep disconnect between parents and coaches when it came to involvement in their kids’ teams: 46 percent of coaches surveyed said they had problems with parents' lack of involvement while at the same time 90 percent of parents claimed to be involved by attending practices or games.
There were also, of course, deep disconnects in parents' view of their children's potential, according to the survey. Thirty-six percent of coaches said they experienced problems with parents who have unreasonable expectations of winning.
"I have conversations with the coaches that my kids play for and the people that run the organizations and school programs," Street said. "[It's important to] talk to those people and say, 'OK, what are the expectations for my kid, the program, the team and what’s a list of priorities’ importance for this year?"
Street said through the program, she hopes to be able to take some lessons back on how to deal with other parents, as well as her own kids who play sports. She said so far she has had to confront at least one parent about their behavior on the sideline at one of her son's games.
"I was petrified to do it," she said. "For one, I'm Picabo Street, and they're looking at me and saying, 'Why aren't you yelling up and down and expecting our kids to win?' I'm expecting them to win, but I'm not acting a fool about it."
When Street was growing up, she said her parents required a certain amount of dedication before joining any sports team. Without a ton of money, she said, her family wasn’t about to waste a few hundred dollars on equipment for something that wasn’t going to be an interest in a few weeks.
"Anything we got involved in, we had to have a level of dedication in it that met the criteria my parents were strict about," she said.
Street now has four boys who participate in tae kwon do, baseball and soccer. While it may seem like a lot of pressure to have an Olympian for a mom, she said they don't seem to be exhibiting any signs that they want to follow in her footsteps. If they do, she said, she’ll know the signs immediately.
"I just tell them follow what's in your heart and what drives you," she said of discussions with her sons. "Do you think about it all the time? Do you dream about being on an Olympic podium and singing the national anthem like I did? Do you miss it in the offseason and when you're away? If you've got a drive like that then we need to be serious about it and talk about it. Other than that we can just grow your character [through sports]."
When she's not busy shuttling her kids to and from practice, Street is also staying active in the ski world. She's slated to go to Sochi in 2014 with Fox Sports to help cover the Olympics. The thing to watch, according to Street?
"I think women's ski jumping," she said. "I'm so happy they're finally in the Olympics. I think everyone's going to enjoy watching those ladies fly and i think those ladies have the potential to entertain everyone."