September 20, 2013
WOMEN HAVE MEDALS IN SIGHT
|Jessie Diggins (L) and Kikkan Randall celebrate with their gold
medals for the women’s team sprint final at the FIS Nordic World
Ski Championships on Feb. 24, 2013 in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
No U.S. female cross-country skier has ever won an Olympic medal, but that dry spell could end for the United States at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins won the gold medal in the team sprint at a world cup in Quebec City in December and then struck gold again at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, in February. Both victories were American firsts. Also this past season, Randall won her second world cup sprint championship and placed third overall. Another first for U.S. women in the sport came last November when Jessie Diggins, Holly Brooks, Kikkan Randall and Liz Stephen claimed a first FIS World Cup relay podium finish, placing third in the 4×5-kilometer in Sweden. At the 2013 World Championships the U.S. team of Kikkan Randall, Jessie Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen and Liz Stephen placed fourth.
CROSS-COUNTRY RUNNING TO CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING
Kikkan Randall is the niece of Olympic Nordic skiers Chris Haines (1976 Winter Games) and Betsy Haines (1980). She was a state high school champion in cross-country running and turned to cross-country skiing to help her offseason conditioning. Randall’s first Olympic experience came in 2002 in a fitting location, her birthplace of Salt Lake City. Twelve years later, she is positioned to become the first female cross-country skier in American history to win an Olympic medal. No American cross-country skier has medaled in the Winter Games since Bill Koch in 1976. The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games would mark Randall’s fourth trip to the Winter Games, and she has steadily improved each four years. She finished 44th in the sprint in 2002, then placed ninth in the sprint in the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games and sixth in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. In addition to her gold-medal performances in the team sprint with Jessie Diggins at the 2013 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships and 2012 Quebec City World Cup, Randall has medaled 19 times in world cup events and is a six-time U.S. sprint freestyle champion. She won five world cup events last season.