Kikkan Randall’s birthday ski started much like any other training day just over two weeks ago on Dec. 31. The 31-year-old U.S. Ski Team member clicked into her bindings and started swinging her arms to warm them up, a movement she’s done “thousands of times before with no problem,” Randall wrote in an email.
Suddenly, something hurt — a minor strain in her back, it turned out — and she stepped out of the skis, went inside and took the rest of the day off.
“Just one of those freak things,” Randall wrote.
Training in Davos, Switzerland, at the time while others tested their endurance and recovery in the Tour de Ski, Randall worked directly with her physical therapist from Anchorage, Alaska, Zuzana Rogers, who was visiting for two weeks.
The idea was to get her back to 100 percent as soon as possible, and 11 days later, Randall won her first World Cup race back — the freestyle sprint in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.
“My back actually did great on Saturday,” Randall wrote.
She didn’t race the classic team sprint the next day, along with teammate Sadie Bjornsen, who was fighting illness.
“I chose not to race on Sunday so that I could test out some classic intensity before jumping into a full-on classic race,” Randall explained. “I did classic intensity [Sunday] and it did great.”
Just about three weeks before the Olympics open in Sochi, Russia, Randall is right on track. While Rodgers headed home earlier this week, Randall’s massage therapist from Anchorage was on his way over for the U.S. Ski Team’s pre-Olympic camp in Seiser Alm, Italy.
The team heads to Szklarska Poreba, Poland, for the first day of official training on Friday, a freestyle sprint on Saturday and 10/15-kilometer classic races on Sunday.
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.