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Kikkan Randall, America’s best cross country skier, is the perfect blend of heredity and environment.
She is the granddaughter of a man who was a university athletic director and an athlete, the niece of two Olympic cross country skiers, the daughter of a Mount Marathon champ. A passion for training, competing and winning is in her DNA. And she is a daughter of Alaska. Born in Utah while her mom was attending school, her family returned to Anchorage when Randall was a little girl. The city nurtured her natural ability with world-class trails, a vibrant racing scene and national-caliber coaches.
And so Randall – challenged by grandfather Lew Haines, inspired by aunt Betsy Haines and uncle Chris Haines, trained by coaches at East High and Alaska Pacific University and seasoned in competitive local races – flourished.
She was 19 when she made her Olympic debut at Salt Lake City in 2002. A year out of high school, she raced with a smile, soaked up the atmosphere and didn’t despair that she finished in the 40s. She was just warming up. As she approached her 28th birthday midway through the 2010-11 season, Randall boasted a resume bursting with historic achievements:
First American woman to win a World Cup medal. First American woman to win a World Cup gold medal. First American woman – and second American ever – to win a World Championship medal. After winning the first of two consecutive World Cup sprint medals in December 2010, Randall took a moment to reflect on how far she has come.
“I was marveling while in (Finland) at the races last weekend when it was really cold, that it didn’t feel that much different than warming up for a high school race at Kincaid,” she said. “I guess I’ve just always been focused on getting better one step at a time, and now the World Cup is my realm to improve in.” — Beth Bragg
photo courtesy of Topher Sabot
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