Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Kikkan Randall from the U.S. poses for photographers after the decoration following her win in the Ladies World Cup Cross Country Ski 1.5km Sprint Free event in Szklarska Poreba, Poland, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
Winter Olympics: Kikkan Randall gives U.S. rare chance at gold in cross country skiing
Cross-country skiing » Only one American has ever won an Olympic medal in the sport.
First Published Jan 30 2014 08:57 pm • Last Updated Jan 30 2014 11:11 pm

Every time Kikkan Randall reaches a career milestone, she’s also breaking new ground for American cross-country skiing.

In a sport with little in the way of tradition in the U.S., no American woman had ever even been on the podium in a World Cup event before Randall earned a third-place finish in January 2007. Seven years later, she has 10 career victories, is the defending World Cup sprint champion, and a world champion in the team sprint with Jessica Diggins — and every achievement has been a first for an American woman.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Now there’s just the big one left: an Olympic medal.

And in Sochi, at her fourth Winter Games, Randall has a real chance to finally get one: she is entering the individual freestyle sprint as one of the big gold-medal favorites, another status previously unheard of for an American.

"The Olympics are really kind of the gold standard in the sport," Randall said in a phone interview. "It’s been wonderful to achieve the success I have had in the sport, but success at the Olympics is really the final one to go for. I feel my career has been building up to this point. I know it’s just one race on one day, but I would love to add an Olympic medal to that collection."

In the wake of Randall’s successes, a number of other American skiers have also emerged on the World Cup. On the men’s side, Simi Hamilton won a sprint stage on the Tour de Ski this season, while veteran Andrew Newell is also an outside contender in the men’s sprint.

But Randall is the team’s only real star.

"We have a unique opportunity to make history in Sochi," U.S. cross-country head coach Chris Grover said when the American team was announced. Only one American has ever won an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing, with Bill Koch taking silver in the men’s 30-kilometer race at the 1976 Innsbruck Games. On the women’s side, Randall is the only one to even make the top 10, with an eighth-place finish in the classical-style sprint in Vancouver four years ago as her best result.

This time, though, the individual sprint is a freestyle event — by far Randall’s best discipline. At the age of 31, she is also a much stronger skier than four years ago. Nine of her 10 individual World Cup victories have come since 2011, and all of them in freestyle sprints — the event she specializes in. She won the last two World Cup events before Sochi, in Poland and the Czech Republic, although those victories came against slightly weakened fields as some top skiers focused on training for Sochi.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.