Kikkan Randall recently posted on Twitter: Just finished up Fast and Female in Anchorage. 300 girls on skis, 500 Subway sandwiches and 20 gallons of hot chocolate, wow!
Randall became friends with Crawford on the World Cup circuit in 2006 and that was when she learned about Fast and Female. In 2008 Randall attended one of Crawford’s events in Canada, which inspired her to hold a similar event in her home town of Anchorage, AK.
Last year’s event after U.S. Nationals in Anchorage was a success, gathering 160 girls. This year Randall again held the event at the Nationals venue, Kincaid Park, and was surprised by the response. Though she expected around 200 participants, Randall said she was “blown away to see close to 300 this year.”
This year’s event took 4 hours – which seems long only until you hear how many activities were actually done in those 4 hours.
First there was a group photo. “You get 300 girls on skis and try and get them in one spot for a picture. . . it was pretty funny,” Randall said.
Then the girls were put into pre-determined groups based on age and ability. Each group was assigned by a color and corresponding name, a few examples being “Purple Power”, “Orange Crush”, “Hot Pink” and “Red Flame”.
There were six stations which the groups rotated through, including downhill, uphill, obstacle course, technique, and sprint relay. Each group and each station had a leader – elite racers such as Liz Stephen, Laura Valaas, and Holly Brooks – who were happy to lend their expertise and enthusiasm toward the event.
Randall headed the downhill station, where she had the girls working on balance by flying down a slope on one ski. Crawford maintains that the downhill station is one of the most empowering parts of the Fast and Female event because when a girl learns the confidence it takes to charge down a hill that same confidence can transfer to her everyday life.
After stations there was food and hot drinks, followed by a centering session of group yoga. A question and answer forum with the elite racers ensued, with rounds of ski trivia and door prizes included. The clinic finally wrapped up with poster signing and photo-taking.
“They’re just like little sponges,” Randall says of the younger girls,” they pick up everything that the older girls say. We talked about how we started skiing and some of our racing experiences and then we did a question and answer session. The girls just love hearing about what it’s like to be an elite racer and how we got started, and it’s great to be able to pass off our experiences and the things we’ve learned to inspire the future generation of skiers.”
Randall knows the importance of role models and the impression they can make on a young athlete. Her aunt was an Olympic skier, and with the familiarity of the Olylmpic Games so close to home, Kikkan grew up with the knowledge that she too could be an Olympian if she worked hard enough. Randall also loved the Christmas Ski Camp that Anchorage Coach Joey Caterinichio would organize every year for Alaskan high school skiers. College skiers who were returning home for Christmas would coach at the camp and talk to the high school athletes about training, college, and racing at the national level. “That was when I had just started skiing in high school, but still I got to ski with all the top racers,” remembers Randall, “it was a pretty cool experience.”
When asked if this would be an annual event she would hold in Anchorage, Randall said that the goal was to have a Fast and Female event take place wherever the National Championships were held every year, and that it would be great to have at least one other festival every year which would take place in different parts of the country. “Now that all the elite racers have had a chance to see an event in action,” Randall said of her cohorts at the recent Anchorage event, “hopefully they will want to go do some events in their home towns.”
There are several different messages Fast and Female wants to convey. The first is something to the effect of “Spread the love”, which Randall explains is “the participation aspect of it – go out and have fun on your skis, be active, get with your friends.”
The second is a more assertive, confidence building, “Dominate the World” message; which Randall qualifies as meaning, “If you’re one of those competitive type people or you want to challenge yourself, you can become a racer and ‘dominate the world’, be the best.”
Fast and Female’s baseline mission statement is “dedicated to the empowerment through sport of young women.” While the events emphasize fun, Crawford herself is very serious about the mission. On her Fast and Female website Crawford explains that the short term goal is to “get girls hooked on the active lifestyle”, while the long term goal is to promote wellness through sport.
“Today’s youth have so much to gain from a healthy, active lifestyle,” Crawford explains, “That’s why we celebrate sport through Fast and Female, bringing together both grassroot as well as elite level racers.”