A season to remember

by • December 24, 2017 • HighlightsComments (0)5681

As Kikkan Randall heads into her last season, all we can say is, ‘Thank you, Thank you, Kikkan Randall, for being an incredible athlete, role model and friend.’

By JOEY CATERINICHIO

In the late 1990s, a little girl under the age of 12 with blond, curly hair would pass me as we scaled the Alyeska Mountain Run. As she ran her way through many races I would often think, who is this little girl and at such a young age, how was she this fast? She never

Kikkan Randall celebrates a third-place World Cup relay finish with teammates Jessie Diggins, Holly Brooks and Liz Stephen, in Gallivare, Sweden. The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics will be Randall’s last, as she plans to retire after the season is over.
Courtesy Kikkan Randall

stopped. In the upcoming years, I witnessed her in multiple sports. As a longtime coach and organizer of many high-level competitions in Alaska, I had the pleasure of watching this little girl participate in multiple select teams from competitions such as the Arctic Winter Games to the Junior Nationals, showing amazing team spirit often blaring “I’m a Barbie Girl” in the team van, to qualifying for multiple World Junior teams, and going for gold as the Sprint Distance favorite at the Sochi Olympics.

Flash forward, as a new mother, Kikkan Randall is now headed into her fifth Olympics. As an Alaska hometown favorite, the chances of her earning a medal in PyongChange are great. And we get one more season of this hometown hero.

Kikkan Randall is Alaska’s and the nation’s cross country darling. She’s the “skier to watch” as she heads into her last season of Olympic racing. As this chapter of cross-country skiing will soon close, Alaska and the ski community thank Kikkan for her graciousness, community endeavors, results and her sprit. Kikkan, has forged more opportunities for women and skiers in the United States than any other cross-country skier. The United States’ newfound success largely relies on Kikkan breaking barriers, being a role model and paving the way for top results. While pulling up a team of young skiers, she has helped the United States rise to the top as one of the Top 5 cross-country ski countries in the world. Kikkan paved the way and has mentored World Cup winners Jessie Diggins, Sophie Caldwell, Sadie Bjornsen and soon-to-be others – and she continues to build camaraderie and success at the highest level.

In Kikkan’s 20-plus years of Nordic racing and years of being on the U.S. Ski Team, her

LIBEREC, CZECH REPUBLIC – FEBRUARY 24: Kikkan Randall of USA poses with the Silver medal won during the Ladies Cross Country Sprint Final A at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2009 on February 24, 2009 in Liberec, Czech Republic. (Photo by NordicFocus/Pool/Getty Images)

contributions to the United States are unprecedented. Kikkan is the only American to have won a Chrystal Globe, the Overall Female Sprinter in the World, multiple medals at the World Cup level and attend five Olympics.

Her contributions continue off the trails with her community service work, As president of the Fast and Female U.S. chapter, Kikkan organized and participated in multiple Fast and Female inspirational camps in the United States, touching the lives of thousands of young girls from all over the nation. When I sit back and think about all the years I have

Kikkan Randall pauses for a photo op during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.
Jeff Ellis

had the privilege to be part or witness, I don’t just think about her success, instead I think about what an amazing person Kikkan is and her top-notch character. Kikkan, you are an inspiration and an amazing friend.

Kikkan Randall admires her second straight FIS Sprint Crystal Globe for World Cup sprint racing.
Matt Whitcomb

Bring home the gold! Alaska is so proud of you.

 

 

 

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