Skiing: Randall aims at history again In January, just when America’s most successful female cross-country skier had scored her second career victory and was leading the World Cup sprint standings, she went home to Alaska to regroup.
Photo Courtesy: www.ernordic.com - Congratulations to Kikkan "Kikkanimal" Randal from Alaska. She took the first ever World Cup Gold Medal win by a US woman.
Never underestimate the value of recharging.
In January, just when America’s most successful female cross-country skier had scored her second career victory and was leading the World Cup sprint standings, she went home to Alaska to regroup.
In the interim, she slept in own bed, hosted a cross-country ski clinic for young girls, officially entered the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, and watched the Super Bowl – imagining how it would feel to compete at the World Championships in Oslo a few weeks later.
“It was pretty cool to see how crazy people get for that game,” Kikkan Randall said of the Green Bay Packers’ 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Come Thursday, at the stadium in Holmenkollen, Randall expects to find “that kind of energy, that many people just as excited about MY sport, MY passion. It’s going to be incredible,” she said.
Already, she won a Norwegian prelude.
On Sunday, when Randall returned to the World Cup circuit in Drammen, Norway, she not only earned her third career win – under vastly different conditions and against a much tougher field than her previous triumph 36 days earlier in Liberec, Czech Republic – but she also regained the sprint leader’s red bib and set herself up perfectly to compete in five events in her sixth world championships.
“It was good to reconfirm that the fitness is [still] there,” Randall said Monday via teleconference from Oslo. “Everything is coming together at the right time.”
In the Drammen sprint final, Randall faced Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla (who had won the preliminary round), Marit Bjoergen (who had won five medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, three of them gold), a pair of top Swedes, and the defending world champion, Arianna Follis of Italy.
“When we came into the final stretch,” Randall said, “I made sure I had open and clear snow to work with. With about 100 meters to go, [Falla and I] pulled even, and with about 50 meters to go, I found another gear.”
Having defeated Falla, Randall stepped onto the top step of the podium, “in the middle of a Falla-Kalla sandwich,” Randall wrote in her blog, explaining that Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla had won a three-way photo finish for third.
Randall’s husband Jeff Ellis was there to witness the win, as he had been at Randall’s previous World Cup triumph in Liberec, as well as her 2009 World Championship silver-medal performance, also in Liberec.
“I consider him my lucky charm at this point,” Randall said. “He’d better be there on Thursday!”
On Thursday, Randall will open the 2011 World Championships in Oslo with her best race (the sprint) in her favorite technique (freestyle, or skate-skiing). All of her victories so far have come in this type of race, as did her ninth-place finish at the 2006 Torino Olympics – the highest finish