KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Kikkan Randall has waited long enough. Twelve years after making her Olympic debut, her big chance at a medal has finally arrived.
The American cross-country skier is one of the gold-medal favorites in the women's individual sprint on Tuesday, a status she never had at any of her previous three Olympics.
The 31-year-old Randall, of Anchorage, Alaska, has developed into a top sprinter over the last four years, with two World Cup discipline titles and a world championship gold on her resume. Only an Olympic medal remains, something no American woman has won in cross-country skiing.
"I'm definitely anxious about the possibilities that lay ahead tomorrow," Randall said at Monday's training session. "I've been waiting my whole career for an opportunity like this."
She's had to wait a while here at the Sochi Games, too. Randall didn't compete in the women's 15-kilometer skiathlon on Saturday, saving her energy for her best event. So there's been plenty of time to think about her big moment.
"There are definitely butterflies but I think it's good," she said. "My ultimate goal is to race the best I can and leave everything out there. I know that when all that goes well, I can be in the fight for the gold medal and that's what I'd love to do."
To get the gold, though, she'll have to beat a strong field led by Marit Bjoergen. The Norwegian won her fourth Olympic gold in the skiathlon, and is the defending champion in the sprint.
Her other main rivals include Germany's Denise Herrmann and Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen of Norway. Jacobsen's participation had been unclear after her younger brother died Friday, but the Norwegian team announced Monday she would compete in the sprint.