A champion, Olympic athlete and Alaskan mother has returned home.

Kikkan Randall made it back to Anchorage Sunday night. Friends and fans awaited her grand entrance at the Anchorage International Airport with cheers, signs, hugs and even some happy tears.

It's been a long journey for Kikkan since the Winter Olympics where she won the first gold medal in U.S. women's cross country skiing history. Afterward, she wrapped up her racing career on the World Cup circuit and just won bronze in her final national championship race.

The gold medal win still hasn't completely set in, but she's home and ready to share the hardware.

"Oh man it's kind of surreal," said Randall. "It's crazy to think that I left here four and a half months ago. I think through all of the memories of the ups and downs from this winter and of course, the fairy tale ending in Pyeongchang and just been soaking it in these last couple of weeks and it's great to be home."

 
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Whether the U.S. cross-country program builds on this win or it's a fleeting moment in time, it's history that Randall says she will never forget.

For her fellow athletes, she says couldn't be more proud of all the Alaskans that represented the U.S. in this winter Olympics.

"It's so cool," said Randall. "I think it's a testament to the system we built here. The support network we have and I feel really good about knowing that that's just going to continue to produce Olympians and medalists in the future. I'm so happy to be from a place so supportive. We got skiers at heart here so it was fun to have so many teammates there."

The welcome home party Sunday night was just the beginning for Kikkan's return celebration. This week has been dubbed Kikkan Randall week.

Wednesday night, the gold medal celebration takes over town square park from five to eight.

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