World Cup sprint leader Kikkan Randall
is unstoppable By Peter Graves
It’s no surprise that Randall is leading the Fast and Female ski festival in Alaska.
Kikkan Randall is breaking trail for American cross coun-
try skiers like few other women before her. In December
2007, she won at Rybinsk, Russia; and then in 2009 won
silver at the FIS Nordic World Championships in Liberec.
On Jan. 15, the Alaska native returned to Liberec to win
the free technique sprints for her third World Cup podium
of the season — and the World Cup sprint lead.
Ski Racing caught up with Randall on the eve of her re-
turn to the U.S. for three weeks of training and recovery in
preparation for a World Cup sprint in Drammen, Norway;
and the 2011 FIS Nordic World Championships in Oslo.
Your recent race in Liberec told more about you.
Your second win — even though you have to go fast
as hell in the race, it also must be tempered by pa-
tience, tactics and good sense. It would seem they
all embody your skiing right now — in short, things
are all coming together. Am I right?
The experience I’ve gained since that first win in Rybinsk
and since the silver medal in Liberec two years ago has
taught me a lot about patience and tactics. My fitness and
strength have improved but so has my approach to each
race. I’ve raced the same competitors several times now
and have started to get a sense of what works and doesn’t
work. Of course the beauty of sprint racing is its unpredict-
ability, and you can never be prepared for everything.
And the Tour de Ski, what were your overall impres-
sions looking back?
The Tour is a unique part of the season and it was cool
to have finally been a part of it. It’s definitely a demand-
ing way to race but I really enjoyed the excitement and
charged atmosphere of racing eight times in 10 days!
And what about your own performances there?
I am mostly satisfied with my performances at the Tour. I
had some strong performances in the prologue, the sprints
and the 15K skate, and overall I felt competitive with the
field. There were some days that I struggled, but I hope
that the learning experiences I gained will help me improve
for the future.
You told me the final climb up Alpe Cermis was the
hardest thing you’ve ever done — please explain.
The climbing part was so steep in places and it goes on for
a good 20-plus minutes. Your legs and lungs just scream,
and you just have to keep convincing yourself you can go a
little further, and then a little further. Especially after seven
races already in the legs. Once on the climb there were no
breaks, so you just suffer more and more as you go. But
as hard as it is, it’s also exhilarating to push yourself that
How do you figure that the Tour helps your overall
World Cup skiing?
The experience of racing day after day within the World
Cup field is just an incredible opportunity. I could test out
different strategies and even if I couldn’t quite hang one
day, I got another chance right away. It’s also great to race
so many different formats. I really got to test the range of
my skills. Oh, and the double World Cup points at the end
are kind of sweet!
I’m guessing you have plans to do it again?
Yeah, I think so. There’s no doubt that just the experience
I’ve gained from doing the Tour once now will help me exponentially the next time around. It’s a really exciting way
to get in a lot of racing and I definitely want to try and improve my overall standing!
Marit [Bjoergen] skipped the tour — what’s your
take on her strategy?
Marit is in a special situation, especially this season with
World Championships in her own backyard. There is a lot