Olympic Q & A: Kikkan Randall, USA Cross-Country Skiing

In 2009, Kikkan Randall became the first U.S. female to win a medal at the cross-country skiing World Championships when she took silver in the sprint event. Randall competed in her first Olympics at the 2002 Salt Lake Games when she was 19, an experience that she likened to "being a kid in a candy store."  Many know her as "Kikkanimial" a nickname that her cross-country teammates gave her in high school.

MindBodyGreen: When did you fall in love with cross-country skiing?

Kikkan Randall: I started cross-country skiing at age six in a local junior nordic program and honestly, at first I didn’t really like it. It was hard and cold. Thankfully, the coaches lured me in with candy and games and pretty soon I discovered how much I loved the feeling of gliding on the snow and pushing my limits.

MBG: You’re no stranger to the Olympics. What’s the coolest thing about competing in the Olympics?

KR: One of the coolest things about competing in the Olympics is being able to represent my country, on the world’s biggest stage, when everyone is trying to be at their absolute best.

MBG: You train with your husband (Canadian Olympic Cross-Country Skiing hopeful, Jeff Ellis), what’s that like?

KR: My husband and I have a little joke, he’s not totally sure that I can’t catch him and I’m pretty sure that I can. It keeps us both on top of our game!  Seriously though, being able to train along side one another every day and share the experience of being elite athletes is a pretty amazing opportunity.

MBG: How do you cross-train in the spring and summer?

KR: I use a lot of different activities to build fitness when there is no snow around: rollerskiing, running, mountain climbing, cycling (mountain and road), weight lifting, etc. It never gets boring!

MBG: What’s your diet like the day you compete?

KR: I like to stick to stuff that I eat regularly, so as to not surprise my body too much. Although, when traveling, this can sometimes be tricky.  Breakfast is my favorite meal and commonly the meal I have to pay attention to most on race day. I like a bowl of oatmeal with yogurt and fruit, and usually an egg or two on the side. For lunch, I like the soup and sandwich combo. This is where being sponsored by Subway comes in handy, it’s quick, easy and nutritious. For dinner, my husband and I take turns cooking. One of my favorite meals to whip up is Chicken Fajitas.

MBG: What’s on your playlist before a race?

KR: I like to start off with something mellow and then build up the intensity closer to the start. Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger are a couple favorites.

MBG: Favorite book?

KR: The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson

MBG: Favorite quote?

KR: "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." – Steve Prefontaine

MBG: Favorite healthy food? 

KR: Six-inch turkey sub on wheat at Subway

MBG: Favorite guilty indulgence?

KR: Maple glazed doughnuts

MBG: Who inspires you?

KR: Beckie Scott, the first North American woman to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing, and my aunt Betsy Haines, a former Olympic cross-country skier and now successful executive and community activist.

MBG: Anyone you are looking forward to meeting at the Vancouver Olympics?

KR: It’s always fun to meet athletes from other countries and even my own US teammates from other sports.

MBG: How will you celebrate your (hopeful) Olympic Gold Medal in Vancouver?

KR: I will celebrate by surrounding myself with friends and family, savoring every moment of a hard earned victory!

For more on Kikkan Randall:


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