Kikkan Randall clinched the World Cup Sprint title Wednesday. The Anchorage skier broke a ski during the classic sprint in Drammen, Norway Wednesday morning. But she still managed to place 12th and secure a spot in skiing history:
Excitement and relief. Those are the two emotions Kikkan Randall was feeling after securing the world cup sprint title.
“It’s been a big thing weighing on my mind this season and a lot of work went into it, but its great to finally consider it done,” Randall said.
Getting it done meant finishing the classic sprint in Norway with only one ski. Randall broke the binding off her ski during the semi finals. She describes the conditions as “gnarly” with a mix of rain and snow. Randall says she figures she must have tweaked it pushing hard on one of the up hills.
“And then as I was going down the downhill, I think my kick wax stuck a little bit and that’s when the binding just kind of broke in half and ripped out of the ski. So all I could do is pick up my ski, pick up the piece of biding and scooted on one foot most of the rest of the way around the track until I eventually got a new ski from my coach 200 meters from the finish. But by then the rest of the group was gone,” Randall said.
Becoming the World Cup sprint champion was Randall’s number one goal for the season. She mapped out the plan to accomplish it last spring with her Alaska Pacific University Coach, Erik Flora. Then she made steady progress towards that goal this winter, winning two world cup races and making it on the podium in four others. She says during the season, she tried to focus on each race one at a time and not pay too much attention to the big picture.
“Mid-season things were going well, I’d been skiing in the red bib almost every weekend and as we were getting closer to the end now it was getting a little bit closer and I had a few falls so it was still something I felt very confident about and wanted to really race hard all the way to the end. But it is a nice feeling to know that’s kind of done now and I can just kind of enjoy these last few races,” Randall said.
Randall is the first female cross country skier from the U.S. to ever capture a World Cup title. U.S. skier Bill Koch won the overall cross country skiing World Cup championship in 1982. For the honor, Randall will receive a crystal globe. She says she’s excited to bring it back to Alaska:
“They’ve been giving them out in all the ski disciples for a long, long time. I think we’ve had one other U.S. skier win it in history and that was in ’82, before I was born. So I’ve always seen the alpine skiers from the U.S. win them and other racers from the Nordic circuit get them, so it will be really cool to have one,” Randall said.
Randall is currently in 4th place overall in the World Cup standings. She is hopeful she can maintain that position. She says there are five more races to go before the season is over. The final sprint – a classic race – will take place next week in Stockholm, Sweden.