Nordic

Ski More Joyfully: Kikkan Randall

A few seasons into retirement from the World Cup, the Olympic gold medalist is finding more joy in skiing than ever.

Kikkan Randall skate skiing in Alaska

Kikkan Randall is no stranger to joyful skiing. What experience could be more joyful than winning an Olympic Gold Medal? Now, after a few seasons of retirement from racing, Kikkan Randall continues to find joy, and adventure, in skiing. She’s been ticking off bucket list races—like the American Birkebeiner and Sweden’s Vasaloppet—and has traveled the country giving presentations on skiing and running clinics. But where is she finding the most skiing joy right now? Off-track skiing.

In March of 2020, Kikkan found herself making new friends on a hut trip in Sweden. “There was Martin who was a trick mountain biker,” she recalls, “and Ida who was a recently retired World Cup cross-country mountain bike racer, and Staffan who does adventure races. We all just put on skis and headed out” The group was setting off for an adventure tour on light backcountry gear. “The first day we skied up to this cabin where there was literally so much snow we had to dig down to it. We went into the cabin, had a little snack break, and went back out for a ski using the BC line with the attachable Easy Skins.” Kikkan describes heading up and down hills, jumping over rivers, and just exploring. “I mean we were like kids,” she says. “I couldn’t believe how giddy I felt and how much fun I was having. It was about not following the trail and, instead, making your own trail.” 

Day two found the group on groomed trails with brief diversions to the banks to find jumps. And so it went for a full week of nothing but skiing.

Kikkan Randall looks out into the distance over a foggy valley

Back at home in North America, Kikkan’s most joyful spring skiing was found off-trail, too. Specifically on crust. “When you get the crust that freezes, it opens you up to being able to access the terrain you couldn’t normally,” she explains. “I love the feeling of gliding along that fast hard snow, usually on a bright sunny day. It’s just awesome.”

She also finds plenty of time to ski with her family, especially in the backcountry. When Kikkan wants to get out into the mountains, she dons alpine touring gear and sets up her young son, Breck, in an alpine setup. “I sort of rig up a towing system so I can pull him behind me like he was being pulled up on a Poma Lift,” Kikkan Randall explains. “I call in the ‘Momma Lift.’ It’s hard work.” Their puppy Ranger—named for the Fischer freeride line—joins in the fun, too. 

For Kikkan, right now, skiing means bringing the family together for outings on crust, in the mountains, or local trails. “It’s worth having a quiver of skis that gives you good options,” Kikkan declares with enthusiasm. She has her classic skis for perfect on track days, skate skis for crust cruising, and alpine touring skis when she really wants to get deeper into the mountains.

Check out the #livetoski edits of Kikkan Randall