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Street won’t compete in super-G

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CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy — Huddled over to hide her face, Picabo Street sat in the snow and cried.

She finished 33rd in a World Cup super-G race Friday, meaning she won't get a chance to defend her Olympic title at the Salt Lake City Games.

It was Street's fourth straight poor World Cup showing in the super-G and prevented her from making the U.S. team in that event. She did qualify for the Olympics in the downhill.

"You know, I was thinking at the top today that this is my last super-G," said Street, who will race in Saturday's downhill, then skip World Cup events next week in Are, Sweden.

Hilde Gerg of Germany won Friday's race in 1 minute, 17.20 seconds, edging Renate Goetschl of Austria by 0.01 seconds.

Street was 2.61 seconds back, then sat nearly motionless for 10 minutes in the finish area, sobbing. A young teammate, Jonna Mendes, finally came to lead Street away as other skiers continued to arrive.

The 30-year-old Street eventually emerged with a smile.

"This is just me being me," she said. "You know, my best maybe just isn't good enough. And that's OK, that's human."

Street will have her shot at an Olympic medal in the downhill, which always has been her best event, the surprise super-G gold at the 1998 Nagano Games notwithstanding.

Downhill "is more natural for me," said Street, who has come back from her third major injury to register two-top 10 downhill finishes in World Cup this season. "There are certain risks that you have to take in super-G that I'm just not ready to take."

Mendes thinks Street has a good chance to add to the downhill silver medal she won at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, five years after recovering from her first knee injury.

"Downhill is still where it's at for Picabo," Mendes said. "Now she can focus only on that and ski fast."

Street has nine World Cup downhill victories in her career. She dominated the event in 1995-96, before crashing at Vail, Colo., on Dec. 6, 1996. Again she returned to the top of the sport, with her triumph at Nagano.

Street has made it clear this is her final season but has wavered on whether she'll retire immediately after the Salt Lake City Games or after the World Cup circuit closes later in 2002.

"Nothing," Street said, "is definite."