World Champion Cross-Country Skier Kikkan Randall Comes Home to Alaska
With last season’s awards won, Randall is inspiring other Alaskans
ALASKA - She's an Olympian and world champion.
Kikkan Randall has been overcoming challenges her entire life.
High above Anchorage, the crusty April snow at Glen Alps is just right for Kikkan Randall to have some fun in the sun.
“I've been hearing about all the wonderful snow that's fallen all winter, so its great to get back and finally enjoy it,” she said.
Home after nearly five months of non-stop international competition, Kikkan is the fastest American on cross-country skis.
“It’s fun to get to this point in the season when the pressure of racing is done and you can look back on all the different things that you did and saw,” she said.
For Kikkan, life now is a dream come true: a dream that started when she strapped on her first pair of skis.
“It's one of those sports where the more you put in to it the more you get out of it, you can really see your hard work pay off.”
Evidence of that can be found all around her South Anchorage home. After winning a number of races, it was clear to her at a young age that she was in the right tracks.
“…And from there I decided that I wanted to be one of the best skiers in the world,” Kikkan said.
With goals like that, there were bound to be challenges... but one in 2008 nearly ended it all.
“My leg started to swell and get hot to the touch, and after twelve hours of that, realizing it wasn't normal, I went to the emergency room, and they diagnosed it pretty quick.”
Kikkan had a potentially fatal blood clot in her leg. She needed surgery right away.
“That was a tough time for me; my whole world is being an athlete and getting out to play every day, so then to be possibly facing a future where I wouldn't be able to do that was a bit scary,” she recalls.
After six weeks in and out of the hospital, getting into and staying in shape began to take on a whole new meaning for Kikkan.
“I made a vow that I would not take another day for granted.”
Only six months after the surgery, she had a silver medal: the first, for any American woman. And she kept on winning.
“This was the first winter where we truly chased after the entire season, so I was over in Europe for four and a half months straight and racing almost every single weekend. Cross-country is such a big sport over there, thousands of people come out to watch, you are live on TV, you get to feel like a bit of a rock star.”
Anchorage is now home to the world cup overall sprint champion.
In April, Kikkan got a chance to thank that community when hundreds of people turned out at Kincaid Park to welcome her home.
For Kikkan, it was a chance to give back.
With last season's ski goals now behind her, Kikkan can focus on another goal – inspiring the next generation of skiers.
Because for Kikkan, setting goals, overcoming the challenges, and dreaming big is just as important as having fun.