Debbie Randall, Kikkan’s mother, was up at 3am watching the live timing updates on the FIS web site. “It’s excruciating, it’s awful! I get twice as nervous as she does.” As Kikkan’s number one fan, Debbie is always right on top of the results as they come in. “Kikkan called about 5:30am and said she was ecstatic. She said the best part was being hugged by Jeff and Erik, and then she was whisked away to all the doping controls and stuff. I’m sure she’s flying [emotionally] over Liberec somewhere right now.”
Debbie is the sister of Betsy Haines, 1985 Lake Placid Olympian and wife of Chris Haines, 1976 Innsbruck Olympian. Never called short on a race celebration, the Randall clan won’t miss this chance either. “I called my sister this morning and we’ll all get together and have some Champagne. I’m still trying to get a hold of my Dad who’s in the hospital in Florida. He always loves to hear about her. I know what he’d say: ‘Why didn’t she win first?'”
“When she called she said that the press didn’t know what to do with her,” Debbie recalled about Kikkan’s phone call. They are so used to those Norwegians and Finns that they couldn’t figure out how to deal with it! What’s going on with the U.S this year!?”
APU coach Holly Brooks lives deep in the team’s email network. She first got a text from a fellow coach early tuesday morning and also an email from APUNSC Head Erik Flora. “I just got this email to the team from Erik (Flora, Kikkan’s APU Head Coach) that said ‘Kikkan won a sliver medal today! Yeeeaaaaaahhhh!'” Holly recalled from Tuesday morning while visiting family in Seattle after the Birkie. “It was like a Y and ten E’s and 20 H’s, and Erik doesn’t do that!”
And Randall, thousands of miles away on one of the biggest stages in the ski world, is grateful for the supprt and inspiration of her family, coaches, and the Alaskan ski community. “The list of people who have helped me is long, for sure. It’s definitely been running through my head today at hyperspeed,” said Randall following her podium appearance. “My aunt Betsy and uncle Chris were good role models growing up. Knowing that they went to the Olympics let me know it was possible. My parents always encouraged me, but never forced me. I had some great coaches along the way especially a high school track coach that helped me get on a year-long training track. And ski coaches like Frode Lillefjell and Jim Galanes.”
“And I have to thank my community in Anchorage, who sponsored me to get me to this level, and [Olympian and fellow Alaskan] Nina Kemppell, who showed me the ropes. It’s just an amazing group of people.
“It was an individual medal today but shared with a lot of people,” she concluded.