Askim, NORWAY – Kikkan Randall (USST) was treated to several new experiences at the Norwegian roller ski cup opener this weekend. Not only did Randall destroy her competition leaving a half-minute gap down to second place on the uphill time trial, she also learned to race on fast wheels – the sink or swim way.
“I have only raced on roller skis in Anchorage before and on regular wheels. So this was my first time for both the fast wheels and for the international competition,” Randall said, noting that the decision to race was somewhat of a whim. She is staying with her friend Ella Gjømle Berg while in Norway, and she thought the race sounded like a fun change of pace from the regular training diet.
“Ella was invited to the roller ski race, and when she told (the organizers) I would be in town, I was invited too. I figured a chance to race with some top Norwegian skiers and to test out roller ski racing on fast wheels would be a fun challenge. And it sure was! Two great races that made for good training,” said Randall.
But the wheels and the competition were only two of the new elements in terms of roller ski racing. The race formats were new to her as well, and that added to the experience, Randall said. The 200-meter sprint qualifier was over before you knew it, and the uphill time trial had its own challenges.
“The competition formats were fun. The 200m sprint took about 24 seconds, so you had to be really on your game from the start,” said Randall, explaining that the sprint was only the beginning. The afternoon featured an 1130-meter beast of an uphill time trial.
“The uphill sprint was tough! Guro (Strøm Solli) called it an ‘acid party,’ and it was definitely true,” said Randall.
But in the right atmosphere and framework, nothing is too hard for Randall.
“I had a fantastic time. I was impressed with the high level of organization. The announcer sounded just like Kjell Erik Kristiansen so I felt almost like I was at a world cup race,” Randall said.
After the race, Randall and her friend Ella Gjømle Berg headed to Sognefjellet to join the Norwegian and Finnish ski teams for some snow time. Randall will stay there for the next few days getting as much snow time as she can before heading back to Oslo for a few more days with Gjømle Berg’s family and returning to the U.S.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.