American Picabo Street, racing this time with a tiger on her helmet, clawed back from a knee-hobbling injury last season to win the Olympic women's super G title by a whisker over a pair of Austrians on Wednesday.
Street, the downhill silver medalist at the Lillehammer Olympics, sped over the Happo-one piste underneath a cloudless sky in Hakuba and won the race in 1 minute, 18.02 seconds.
It was the first Alpine race to be held in the Nagano Games after heavy snow and unpredictable weather forced organizers to postpone races for three straight days.
Unheralded Michaela Dorfmeister took the silver just one-100th of a second behind, while Austrian teammate Alexandra Meissnitzer took third another 0.06 second back.
''I had a major mistake around the midpoint, but after that I just thought about skiing down the course,'' Street said.
At the 1996 world championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain, the popular 26-year-old from Triumph, Idaho, had her racing helmet painted to look like Earth before she went on to win the women's downhill and super G titles.
This time, she came up with another prophetic image -- a tiger which happens to be the animal for this year according to the Chinese animal zodiac cycle.
''I painted a tiger this time because that's what I did at the 1993 world championships, and I was skiing well then,'' Street said. She won an Alpine combined silver at the 1993 event held in Shizukuishi, Iwate Prefecture in northeastern Japan.
The three medalists, all posting mediocre results so far this winter, pulled off a stunning coup over the dominating skiers of the World Cup circuit.
Germany's Katja Seizinger, the current overall World Cup leader, placed sixth in 1:18.44 nearly half a second behind while compatriot Martina Ertl was seventh.
Italy's Isolde Kostner, two-time world champion in this event, was 11th.
Kumiko Kashiwagi, the only entrant from Japan, clocked 1:21.89 to finish 36th out of the 44-woman field. (Kyodo News)
Results of Alpine skiing women's super G Wednesday in the 18th Olympic Winter Games at Happo-one, Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture:
1. Picabo Street, U.S. 1 minute, 18.02 seconds
2. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria 1:18.03
3. Alexandra Meissnitzer, Austria 1:18.09
4. Regina Haeusl, Germany 1:18.27
5. Renate Goetschl, Austria 1:18.32
6. Katja Seizinger, Germany 1:18.44
7. Martina Ertl, Germany 1:18.46
8. Melanie Suchet, France 1:18.51
9. Stefanie Schuster, Austria 1:18.53
10. Hilde Gerg, Germany 1:18.59
36. Kumiko Kashiwagi, Japan 1:21.89
Yulia Krygina, Kazakstan Did not finish
(February 11, 1998)