Randall wins 16th U.S. title (Skiing)

March 27, 2011
Kikkan Randall

Anchorage’s Kikkan Randall continues to prove that’s not a one-trick pony on cross-country skis, shedding the sprint-only label by being competitive in mid- to long-distance races.

She took another step in that direction today by winning the 30-K race at the U.S. Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho.

It was her 16th career national title, now just two behind all-time leader Nina Kemppel of Anchorage.

Randall, of East High fame, successfully defended her 30-K title over Swedish import Maria Graefnings of the University of Utah and junior star Jessie Diggins of Minnesota, as well as a group of strong Alaska skiers.

“I was really just trying to focus on my own rhythm and skiing relaxed,” Randall told the U.S. Ski Team website. “I knew with the altitude the fatigue would set in before you knew it.”

Graefnings, who was coming off a NCAA championship, stayed close to the Alaska Hall of Famer but did not have enough to beat Randall. Finishing with a time of 1:31:27, just 9.7 seconds ahead of Graefnings, Randall secured the national title and $1,200 purse.

“Maria Graefnings was skiing with me, I was kind of hoping she’d take the lead on a couple sections but she was content to follow,” Randall told the website. “I just kept skiing my own race and then I started to feel cramps coming on and that concerned me a little bit. But I was able to kind of push through it.”

Other Alaskans in the top 10 included Anchorage’s Holly Brooks (fifth), Palmer’s Kate Fitzgerald (sixth), Anchorage’s Nicole DeYong (ninth) and Fairbanks’ Becca Rorabaugh (tenth).