Kikkan Randall’s life has changed dramatically in the past few months.
At the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, Randall and Jessie Diggins won the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. in cross-country skiing. Then on March 27, 2018, at the SuperTour Finals in Craftsbury, Vermont, Randall completed her final race as a full-time athlete.
In April, Randall, along with her husband Jeff Ellis and 2-year-old son Breck, moved to Penticton, a town of just over 30,000 people located in south central British Columbia. It’s the first time that the five-time Olympian has lived outside of Anchorage, Alaska, since she moved there with her parents in the 1980s.
While this will be one of the first years that Randall has not spent Mother’s Day with her own mom, Deborah, in Anchorage, she is “looking forward to spending the day with my boys.”
“I asked Jeff the other day, ‘So what are we going to do for Mother’s Day?’” Randall said. “We don’t have any concrete plans yet. But this is the first time [in a while] that I’ve really been in one place for more than a few days at a time.”
Retirement has been busy for Randall. In addition to moving to Penticton, she traveled to Anchorage twice for gold-medal celebrations and a retirement party. She also made trips to Los Angeles and Park City, Utah, for International Olympic Committee and U.S. Ski & Snowboard commitments.
Now back at her new home, Randall hopes to continue a Mother’s Day tradition that she started with her mom: “Some sort of exercise, then brunch.”
Last year, when Breck was just over a year old and Randall was training for her final year on the world cup tour and her last Olympic Games, she spent Mother’s Day morning with Breck and Jeff, then went on a bike ride with her mom, followed by lunch.
Chances are good that Randall can continue this tradition with Breck in Penticton, home to miles of mountain biking and hiking trails. Randall can see a mountain biking trail network across the valley from her home, and a sponsor gave her a new mountain bike as a retirement gift.
In the few days she has been there, Randall has found time to explore her new hometown. Earlier this week, she rode her bike along Skaha Lake just south of town, with Breck in a pull-behind chariot. She pedaled 12 miles along the lake, then let Breck out to play in a park. On the 12-mile ride home, she realized it was slightly uphill and into a headwind.
“So I got my workout in,” she joked.
Earlier this spring, Randall and Ellis, with Breck in a backpack, went crust skiing in the mountains near their new home. Ellis carried Breck, who is getting heavy (and antsy).
“As long as I let him get out and run around every so often, then he’s pretty patient,” she said.
They have also taken Breck skiing, and he has a strider bike (a small pedal-free bike that helps kids develop two-wheeled balance).
“We just try to get him around to lots of things so that as he grows up and develops that awareness, he’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah, this is what we do,’” said Randall.
It’s a parenting style that Randall learned from Deborah and her dad, Ronn. Randall was free to try any activity (soccer, alpine skiing, running, etc.), as long as she committed to play out the season or stick with it until the end of the session.
“I’d love to apply the same thing [as a parent],” said Randall. “We’ll try out what Breck wants to do. If he gets bored or wants to try something else, we’ll see out the season, then let him try something new.”
Randall is also thankful to her parents for challenging her to do her best — even if that meant her mom, an English major in college, correcting her papers for school.
“The joke was the evil red pen,” said Randall, who’s thankful that her parents were willing to help her improve in whatever she was doing.
Asked if she thinks her parenting style affected her daughter, Deborah is not sure. She is just happy that Kikkan and Jeff are always glad to share Breck.
As for Mother’s Day, Deborah will be solo — none of her three children currently live in Anchorage. But like her daughter, she is always upbeat.
“Unfortunately, all of my children are gone so I get to do whatever I want on Mother’s Day,” she emailed. “Thinking of riding a bike and then a fabulous lunch!”
A freelance writer based in Vermont, Peggy Shinn has covered five Olympic Games. She has contributed to TeamUSA.org since its inception in 2008.