Making the most of a rare chance to race in North America in front of friends and family, Anchorage's Kikkan Randall on Saturday grabbed a World Cup gold medal for the second day in a row.
Randall, 29, won the individual freestyle sprint race to complete a sweep of the cross-country ski races in Quebec City. On Friday, she teamed up with Jessie Diggins of Afton, Minn., to win take the team sprint title.
On Saturday, Randall earned sole possession of the top spot on the victory podium by dominating the finals of the 1.6-kilometer race. She beat silver-medalist Maiken Caspersen Kalla of Norway and bronze-medalist Ida Ingemarsdotter of Sweden to claim first place in the World Cup sprint standings and second place in the overall standings.
"The crowd was unbelievable, to see so many American flags and face paint," Randall said in a press release from the U.S. Ski Team. "To be able to do that victory lap afterwards was something I will definitely remember for the rest of my life."
The win was the seventh in Randall's World Cup career, which began when she was still a teenager.
The East High graduate, who trains at the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Center, has won 17 World Cup medals and two World Cup mini-tour medals; five are silver, five are bronze and the rest are gold.
The World Cup tour is in North America for the only time this season -- skiers head to Canmore, Alberta, later this week for three races before returning to Europe for the rest of the season.
Racing on this side of the ocean has gained Randall, her teammates and her sport extra attention, especially since the U.S. women are having such a hot season.
Randall has won five medals since the season began the week of Thanksgiving and twice she has shared the glory with teammates -- on Friday by winning the team sprint with Diggins and a couple of weeks ago in Sweden by guiding the U.S. relay team to bronze.
"We always felt deep down that if we trained hard enough and wanted it bad enough we could be on the top of the podium," Randall said. "It took many years and many small steps to get up to that point and now we're starting to really just believe and have good confidence.
"We have many girls working together and pushing together so I think the real reward for us was to be able to put together really strong performances here when our friends and family get to see us in action, which does not happen very often."
Randall, a three-time Olympian, was one of five U.S. women to advance from preliminary qualifications to the quarterfinal heats, although she was the only one to make it into the semifinals and beyond. Other U.S. quarterfinalists were Sophie Caldwell (14th place), Rebecca Rorabaugh of Fairbanks and APU (24th), Sadie Bjornsen of Anchorage and APU (27th( and Diggins (28th).
Three other APU skiers competed -- Holly Brooks (36th), Kate Fitzgerald (52nd) and Lauren Fritz (54th).
Andy Newell of Shaftsbury, Vt., led the U.S. men in fifth place, his best effort since winning a bronze medal in a 2010 World Cup sprint race.