3 Min. Read | Ambassadors
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 cancer to the list of challenges she’s overcome in her lifetime. Now, when she’s not inspiring those facing the similar challenges or spending quality time outside with her son, she’s advocating for getting more people outside, onto skis and into living happier, healthier, more active lives.
What has been your most significant life moment or favorite outdoor experience this year?
Watching my son, Breck, get confident on a mountain bike and get excited about riding. We even studded his tires so that he could keep riding all winter. It’s our primary mode of transportation to and from school every day too!
Would you like to share any significant life/career updates?
I am a full year into my role as the Executive Director of the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage, which supports xc skiing for the city. It’s been a year of learning and getting reacquainted with the grassroots side of the sport. Now excited to see what I can do to help more people experience xc skiing and live healthy, active lives! Breck and I moved into a house really close to the trails, so we’ve been having fun exploring and doing so many adventures right from home.
“A fun trip outdoors doesn’t have to be fancy. Sometimes the most simple and spontaneous trips are the best.”
What projects or adventures do you have on the horizon that you’re most excited about?
I’m looking forward to participating in a new event this year called the “Ski de She”. It’s a weekend of skiing, learning, and fun being put on by the organizers of the Birkie ski race in Hayward, Wisconsin. The 3-day event features a women’s only ski race and plenty of time to move and meet new people. I love helping women discover their inner strengths through cross-country skiing, and this will be a fun opportunity to help beginners and advanced skiers alike.
What is your best advice for someone who wants to live an active life in the outdoors?
Grab your essentials and just go. A fun trip in the outdoors doesn’t have to be fancy to have a lot of fun. Sometimes the most simple and spontaneous trips are the best. Have your gear ready and accessible so you can take advantage of an opportunity at the spur of the moment. Also, meeting up with family or friends is a great motivator. Especially if the weather doesn’t look so encouraging, if you know your friends are waiting for you, it’s easier to rally. Then once you’re out there, time in the outdoors with friends is always more fun!
When faced with doubt or discouragement, how does time outdoors help you remain inspired and optimistic?
It always blows me away how I can turn the worst day or a bad mood right around with some time outdoors. I’m not sure if it’s the perspective shift from being out in the elements and terrain where everything feels more significant than yourself or just the feel of the wind, sun, rain, snow, or breeze on your face. Now that I work in an office most of the day, I need to remind myself to step outside to break up the time in front of the computer screen and to help reset my focus. Even 5 minutes outdoors can be a helpful reset.
You do a lot of work to help young people live active lives. What do you think is a unique developmental or personal benefit that kids and youth can only get through outdoor sports/activities?
What I love about kids is how much they learn through play. Nature and the outdoors are the perfect playgrounds. By being outside and moving through different terrain, encountering diverse weather conditions, and having an exploratory mindset, kids naturally develop essential life skills like resilience, patience, and drive. They develop physical strength and mental strength, all without really realizing it.
So many people wish they, like you, could push themselves out of their comfort zones. How should they start?
Pushing outside your comfort zone is a skill that can be built over time. The key is to start small and challenge yourself a little more each time. If we attempt to push too far too fast, it’s easy to get discouraged and want to retreat. Now that I am not training full-time anymore, I can relate to feeling uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. I need to stop comparing myself to what I used to be able to do and start at a level that is appropriate for me now. I set small goals for myself with an eye toward building up.
What's your favorite L.L.Bean Product?
I love my 850 Down Jacket. It’s a nice shade of raspberry pink and has come in handy on a diverse set of adventures. Whether it’s the insulation I need to stay warm while I’m skiing along with my son Breck at 5 deg F or sitting around a campfire with some girlfriends, that jacket does the trick!