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Road to Sochi: Kikkan Randall

(News Senior Sports Columnist Jerry Sullivan is profiling U.S. athletes leading up to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, which begin Feb. 7.)

Kikkan Randall, 31, will be competing in her fourth Olympics and attempting to become the first American woman to win a cross country medal at the Games. The only U.S. skier ever to make the podium in the Nordic events was Bill Koch, who won a surprise silver at Innsbruck in 1976.

The “Kikkanimal” has won 17 national titles and is a two-time world sprint champion. Randall, the niece of former cross country ski Olympians Chris Haines and Betsy Haines, has 11 World Cup wins on her resume, including two in the past month. She won five World Cup events in 2013, including the team sprint. In 2009, she became the first U.S. woman to win a championship at the worlds.

Randall, who hails from Alaska, seems to be peaking for Sochi. She took a dominating victory last week in a freestyle sprint in the Czech Republic, winning handily in all three rounds to capture her first World Cup victory of the season. Known for her pink hair and outfits, Randall is married to former Canadian ski racer Jeff Ellis.

“At every Olympics, I’ve been so excited to represent my country, but I’ve always wanted to be in the hunt for a medal,” Randall said last week. “I have confidence from my results over the last couple of years, and I’m just excited to have an opportunity to make history for the U.S.”