Skier. Mother. Adversity Overcomer.
Kikkan Randall is a world-champion cross-country skier, and a trailblazing role model for female athletes around the world. After she retired in 2018, she faced her biggest challenge yet. With the love and support of her family, Kikkan was able to add breast cancer to the list of challenges overcome.
L.L.Bean: You’ve had to overcome a lot, both during your career and after. How did your athletic experience help you during your cancer fight?
Kikkan: Over the course of my career, it wasn’t a total smooth ride to the top. There were a lot of times when I felt on track, only to be derailed by an illness or injury. I had a major blood clot in my leg in 2008. I battled a stress fracture in 2013. But getting through it and getting to the top allowed me to experience that exhilarating downhill.
And so, as I was facing cancer, I tried to think about it the same way. Okay, this is going to be challenging. But we’re gonna just do it one step at a time. All the best things in my life have come after something hard.
L.L.Bean: Speaking of the best things in life – how does it feel to spend more time with your son these days, after all you’ve been through?
Kikkan: I just feel like life is more complete when I’m out doing stuff with Breck. Now more than ever, I just can’t wait to get out and do all the things I love with him. I was marveling at the clouds the other day. The shimmer off the water. They’re the simplest moments, but they’re so much more meaningful now. Breck is fully able to ride a pedal bike now and he is really excited to go camping. I’m excited to continue exploring around where we live and expose him to as many outdoor trips as possible. I just ordered a new tent for our camping adventures. I’d love to take him on an overnight paddle board adventure along Lake Okanagan.
L.L.Bean: When you were competing against the best skiers in the world, how important was it to have a team atmosphere?
Kikkan: So, when I first starting having success on the World Cup circuit, I was the only woman representing the U.S. And as much as I enjoyed the experience, I wanted to do it as a team. That motivated me to go out and rally the top girls from around the country, to get together and build something. That was the best way to raise the bar, to create that camaraderie, this family that would support you on the road for five months of the year. And now, knowing what we’ve done to create a new platform, the next generation will take it far beyond what we’ve even thought was possible. It’s just so cool.
L.L.Bean: Now that you’re retired, what do you find yourself being passionate about?
Kikkan: Now that I’m done competing professionally in cross-country skiing I am excited to find new events and challenges to test myself. I’m looking into major marathons, off-road triathlons, anything endurance, so a cool trail run or bike event would be fun. I am also talking with other athletes about collaborating on projects and hoping to brainstorm on other collaborations with other L.L.Bean Ambassadors. I’m also currently working on a book about my life story that shares the mental strategies that have helped me win Olympic gold, be an active mom and get through cancer treatment. Other than that, I continue to adjust to “normal” life, learning how to balance work and parenting demands with staying active and healthy.