Kikkan Randall Is Inspiring Girls to Be More Active in Athletics
Entertainment The cross-country skier and four-time Olympian reflects on her award-winning career and shares advice for women and girls across the country.
What sets Randall apart is her drive and determination — not only to succeed in her sport, but to be more. Of her many impressive accomplishments, winning the Overall World Cup Sprint title in the winter of 2012 is the one she remembers with great pride.
So why this accomplishment, over all of her other wins?
Simply because it was not a one-time best award, like most competitions, but rather an award that reflected her consistency throughout the entire season. She was, time and again, the fastest sprinter in every country she competed in. All this while traveling from November to March, away from her family.
Best of all? She won this award three seasons in a row, in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Making future medal-winners
Growing up, Randall had varied athletic interests. “It’s really important for kids to try a lot of different [sports]. But once you commit, you have to see it through,” she says. The most important part is just to get them out there playing sports and being active.
Every sport brings with it different lessons for kids and adults alike, so it’s great to expose kids to a variety as early on as possible. With both team and individual sports, these are lessons that they will take with them throughout their lives.
Reflecting on life lessons
“Role models aren’t just on a cereal box, but people you can meet in real life who can keep inspiring you.”
The biggest lesson an athlete of any caliber takes away from her or his sport is hard work. Learning to commit to the sport, not give up, and stay dedicated, patient and focused — even in the hardest of times — is one of the most rewarding takeaways from sports.
“Whether it’s getting the Olympic gold in ten years or crossing the finish line at the local event, breaking [down your goals] into smaller things you can focus on to build your confidence is what helps you get there,” says Randall.
Teamwork required in every sport is something you take with you through adulthood. You work together to achieve a common goal; you help each other overcome your weaknesses; and you build on your strengths. You cheer each other on as teammates, and you celebrate the wins and learn from the loses together.
Becoming the mentor
Randall has been fortunate to grow up with so many amazing female mentors — starting with her aunt, Betsy Haines, a former cross-country skiing Olympian also. What made an impact on Randall was that the strong, athletic women not only lead by example but were also supportive throughout her career and invested in her success. These are strong women who know what they want to do and work hard to get it.
Randall continues, “Role models aren’t just on a cereal box, but people you can meet in real life who can keep inspiring you.”
And Randall walks the walk. She is the president of Fast and Female USA, a non-profit that works to empower girls to stay “healthy, happy and active in sports through their teens.”
Did you know that girls drop out of sports at six times more often than boys during their teenage years? That’s a fact that Randall and her colleagues at Fast and Female are working to change day by day.
It’s important to have girls and boys equally active in sports throughout their childhood, even if it’s not competitive. “Physical activity is important to everyone, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone,” observes Randall.
Randall also hopes to see more women in leadership roles within sports. It’s important for young girls to see successful women as coaches and trainers to see that the dedication and commitment can amount to something.