Kikkan Randall began ski racing in high school as a way to stay in shape for running during the off-season and quickly became one of the top U.S. Junior racers, following in the footsteps of her aunt and 1980 U.S. Olympian, Betsy Haines. As part of the U.S. Ski Team, Kikkan has been a nine-time US National Champion, posted six World Cup top-ten results, been on two World Cup podiums, and in 2008 posted the first ever women’s World Cup victory with a gold medal in the sprint race in Rybinsk, Russia.
For Kikkan, skiing is a way to “move around the world on [her] own power” and to be “an active and fit person that can chase after whatever [she] can dream up.” She trains on a daily basis with her Alaska Pacific University team in Anchorage that includes Taz Mannix and Laura Valaas, who both challenge Kikkan and offer her camaraderie through the long hours. Kikkan’s long term goals are to win an Olympic medal in 2014 and to establish herself as one of the best sprinters on the World Cup.
Birthdate: December 31, 1982
Hometown: Anchorage, AK
Current Residence: Anchorage, AK
Ski Club: APUNSC
Status on U.S. Ski Team: World Cup
Best Results: World Cup victory Rybinsk Sprint 2007, 9th Olympic Sprint 2006, 8-time US National Champion
Sponsors: Subway, Providence Health Systems Alaska, Continental Auto Group, Anchorage Fracture and Orthopedic Clinic, Alaska Telecom, Allstate Insurance, Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Rudy Project, PowerBar, IBEX
When/why did you start ski racing, and what were some highlights of your young skiing career?
I started ski racing in high school as a way to stay in shape for running during the winter. All my friends on the running team did skiing, so it seemed like the fun thing to do. My freshman year of high school I tried to alpine race and cross-country race at the same time. Unfortunately all the big races for each discipline were always on the same weekends, so I chose cross-country.
Who has been the most influential person for you, whether as a skier or a person?
The most influential person in my life has probably been my aunt, Betsy Haines. She was a standout high-school athlete (she still holds the state mile record), a 1980 US Olympian in cross-country skiing and is a successful business woman. Growing up I wanted to be just like my aunt Betsy. I credit her for helping to inspire my Olympic dream. She has also been a great confident and supporter of my career.
Where is your favorite place to ski, where is your favorite place to race, what is your favorite part of the season, what are your favorite ski conditions?
My favorite place to ski is just about anywhere I get to glide across the snow when I feel good. I have had the opportunity to visit so many amazing ski venues around the world that it wouldn’t be fair to pick just one.
I have two favorite places to race, one being Soldier Hollow where I raced my first National Championships and where I got to race in my first Olympics. My other favorite place to race thus far has been in Rybinsk, Russia. It’s a perfect course for me, and the atmosphere of the race with all the cheering fans really gets me fired up.
My favorite snow conditions for skating are in hard packed man-made snow right around the 25 F (that would be -4 C) mark. You can go really fast and apply a lot of power to the snow. For classic I also like a hard track. Sometimes that means hard wax and sometimes it can be klister. Whenever the kick is bomber, I love to kick and glide!
What do you love about skiing/why do you ski?
I ski because I love to ski. I love to move around in the world on my own power. Skiing helps me be an active and fit person that can chase after whatever I can dream up. Skiing also gives me a structured environment to challenge myself on a daily basis.
What drives you to succeed at the highest possible level, and what are your short term and long-term goals as a skier?
Succeeding at the highest level means greater and greater challenges all the time, and I love challenges! I live for setting goals, even when they seem a little out of reach, and chasing wholeheartedly after them. Giving my absolute best effort in something has given me some of the greatest satisfactions I have ever experienced in my life.
Looking ahead to this coming season, I am aiming for a podium at the pre-Olympic World Cup in Vancouver, a medal at World Championships in the sprint, more World Cup wins in skate sprints, and advancing to the semi-finals or better in World Cup classic sprints. My long-term goals are to win an Olympic medal and establish myself as one of the best sprinters on the World Cup.
Do you have any consistent training partners? Do you prefer training alone or with others?
I am fortunate to have a strong group of training partners, both men and women, on my Alaska Pacific University team in Anchorage. I train with Taz Mannix and Laura Valaas, some of the nation’s best women, on a daily basis and I also get to chase after a pretty strong group of boys. I prefer training in a group, partially for the extra challenge and also for the camaraderie. Many people would consider cross-country ski training an insane pursuit on which to spend one’s life energy, but knowing there are other people out there doing along side me, really keeps me motivated.
On occasion I get to train with Canada’s Chandra Crawford and that has been a great opportunity for both of us. We each bring unique training backgrounds to the table, but meet on the common goal of North American domination! Our strength and weaknesses match up surprisingly well so we can push each other to improve.