Cross-country skier Kikkan Randall is a pioneer in her sport. The four-time Olympian has racked up a list of firsts including: first U.S. woman to win a world cup event in 2008, first U.S. woman to earn a world championship medal in 2011, first U.S. woman to podium in the overall world cup sprint standings in 2011 (and first to top that podium in 2012), first U.S. cross-country athlete to win world championship gold (with Jessie Diggins) in 2013. And in addition to being a champion in her sport, the 31-year-old is also a champion for female athletes.
Randall balances her competitive life by serving as an ambassador for the organization Fast and Female, which started in 2005 as a way to get more girls on skis. We asked her about the work she was doing with the non-profit and what she sees for her future.
|Fast and Female at the USSA Center of Excellence on Oct. 16, 2013
in Park City, Utah.
For those who don’t know, can you explain Fast and Female.
Fast and Female is an organization focused on keeping girls in sports through supportive programming and mentoring from top-level female athletes. Our goal is to empower young women through positive experiences in sports with hopes that they stay involved in sports through their whole lives and eventually become the future leaders of Fast and Female.
When and how did you get involved?
While racing on the world cup I became good friends with the founder of Fast and Female, Chandra Crawford — an Olympic gold medal cross-country skier from Canada. She invited me to be an ambassador at one of her events and I immediately fell in love with the concept. The next year I helped get the first U.S. event going in my hometown in Anchorage and now I’m the lead cheerleader for Fast and Female in the U.S.
Why did you want to get involved?
As an elite athlete, I have experienced firsthand the benefits of being involved with sports. Through sports I have developed self-confidence, a healthy lifestyle, positive body image, and I've gained so many amazing friends and experiences. Sports have taught me how to work hard and challenge myself to achieve goals and I've also learned the positive benefits of working together as a team. I want every girl to experience the same benefits that I have from being involved with sports and I am passionate about helping girls discover how to make sports an integral part of their lives.
Any favorite memories stick out from your time with Fast and Female?
Oh, there are so many amazing moments — it's hard to pick just one! I think my favorite part of the day is when we all get together for the group fitness activity (usually Zumba or yoga) and you see 200 hands go into the air in one synchronized movement and you see all the smiles on all the girls’ faces. I also love reading the post-event surveys. I'm always blown away by how much the girls take in and how one afternoon can inspire these girls to dream big.
How did you get started in cross-country skiing?
Growing up in Alaska with six months of snow on the ground, cross-country skiing was a pretty popular sport. My aunt and uncle are Olympians in cross-country skiing and my mother was a successful NCAA cross-country skier. I got introduced to cross-country skiing through a local junior group called Anchorage Junior Nordic. When I got into junior high, I did cross-country skiing as an after-school sport while I was alpine racing on the weekends. High school was when I really fell in love with the sport, committing to year-round training at age 16.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a cross-country skier?
I think I would definitely be an athlete of some sort. I just love the challenge of pushing my body every day. I also love computers and technology. There was a big part of me that thought about pursuing a degree in computer science if I hadn't gone the full-time athlete route.
Any thoughts on what comes after your sporting career?
One thing that I'm super excited about is starting a family. My husband and I are looking forward to having kids some time in the near future — and I think parenting is going to be a whole new exciting adventure!
Career-wise, I really love working with healthy promotion. I'd love to find a position that allows me to encourage others to live a healthy, active lifestyle and stay involved in the sports world.