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Alaska Notebook: Drive on, Kikkan

Drive on, Kikkan

She would have worn gold with grace, and Alaskans longed for the sight.

Try to imagine how hard Kikkan Randall strove for that moment.

But one of the first things I thought about when I read that Kikkan Randall fell five-hundredths of a second short of a shot at Olympic medals was a poster at the Beach Lake Trails Chalet in Chugiak. Randall signed a dedication to the kids in the Eagle River Junior Nordic program -- "ski fast and have fun."

She has had a long, wide reach throughout Alaska and beyond. That only makes sense, for she is America's finest Nordic skier, with a peerless World Cup record. Kikkan Randall has become one in the range of quintessential Alaskans. And not just for her skiing, but for her leadership and sportsmanship. She's an Olympian.

There was -- and still is -- pressure in Sochi. It seems that the higher one goes, the farther the fall, even when there's no fall at all. Few, even few of the gifted, dare the rarefied air where the bar is so high and there's nowhere to hide. Kikkan Randall dares, and that's one of the reasons we all pull so hard for her.

For the rest of these games, may she ski fast and have fun -- and feel a wind at her back. That's the force of all those back home who think the world of her, medal or no.

-- Frank Gerjevic