Quest To Be Best In The World (1/30/13)

 
"When one thinks of cross country ski racing, pictures of grimacing
faces and bodies strewn across the snow probably come to mind"

Hello!  My name is Kikkan and I am a cross country ski racer.

Cross country skiers are known to be some of the fittest athletes on the planet and when one thinks of cross country ski racing, pictures of grimacing faces and bodies strewn across the snow after the finish line probably come to mind.  Yet while our sport is physically grueling, there is a fun and lighter side as well.  We get to travel to ski destinations all over the world and ski in some of the most scenic and incredible outdoor theaters.  Our sport combines endurance with strength, power and speed, and our lifestyle is focused on being as healthy as we can be.  It’s a pretty awesome day job!

When I tell most people that I’m a ski racer, they automatically assume I’m an alpine skier.  While that is quite a compliment for my surely muscular stature, it’s always funny to explain that I actually like to ski UP the hills too.  Cross country skiing is not a very well understood sport in the U.S., and that’s why I’m excited to have this opportunity to bring you inside our world during the lead up to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

I actually got my start in alpine skiing. On my first birthday my dad brought home the smallest boots and skis he could find and built a small hill for me in the front yard.  From those very first descents, I had a smile on my face and fell in love with the feeling of gliding on the snow.  At the age of 6, I learned to cross country ski.  I have to admit that I didn’t totally love it at first.  Thankfully my parents let me dabble with a little bit of everything so that I could discover which activities really fit my spirit best.

 
Winning the freestyle sprint World Cup in Quebec City on
Dec. 8, 2012

Growing up I was always really fascinated with the Olympics.  I remember watching the 1988 Winter Olympics on TV when I was five years old and deciding right then that I wanted to go to the Olympics.  I was further encouraged by the stories of my aunt and my uncle that went to the Olympics in cross country skiing.  My Olympic dreams took many different forms over the years.  For a while I wanted to be an Olympic soccer player, then a diver, then an alpine racer, then a runner and finally around 16, I decided to go for the Olympics in cross country skiing.

At that time, no American woman had ever been in the top 10 at the Olympics, nor won a world championship medal, nor won a World Cup race or ever really been a threat on the international scene in cross country.  Yet I had this feeling deep down that it was possible to become one of the best in the world.  It would just take time, patience and hard work.

That is a quest I started 13 years ago.  It’s been quite a journey so far – through three Olympics, seven world championships, 97 World Cup starts and thousands of hours on the snow.  And the most fun parts are just beginning!  This next year heading into Sochi, chasing after the first U.S. women’s Olympic medal in cross country, is going to be a wild ride and I look forward to sharing it with you.

Along with my TeamUSA.org blog here, I will be posting updates through my social media outlets and I encourage you to follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

You can also check out cool clips of the season and highlights of my races on the USSA Network on YouTube

Thanks for reading!