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Alaska cross-country skiing star Kikkan Randall pregnant with first child

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published October 15, 2015

Kikkan Randall announced her pregnancy Thursday with an impossibly cute photo on her Facebook page.

"The Randall-Ellis family will be growing by 2 feet…in April 2016!" said the caption.

In the picture were three pairs of winter boots – papa boots, mama boots and baby boots.

And because Randall is who she is – the most successful cross-country skier in U.S. history – the baby boots were a gift from L.L. Bean, one of Randall's sponsors.

Randall, 32, will skip the upcoming World Cup season but said she plans to return for the 2017 World Championships and the 2018 Winter Olympics.

She and husband Jeff Ellis shared the news with members of the U.S. Ski Team earlier this week in Park City, Utah, where Randall is participating in a training camp in Park City, Utah.

Randall said by email that she hasn't missed a season since she began racing in her pre-teen years.

She has grown up in the spotlight. She first made news as an 8th grader who led a campaign to restore sports in Anchorage's junior high schools after budget cuts eliminated them.

Randall was a multi-sport star at East High and an Olympian by age 19. She's a 14-year member of the U.S. Ski Team, a three-time season-long World Cup sprint champion, a two-time World Championship medalist and a 27-time World Cup medalist in individual races.

And now, she's making news as a first-time mom -- one who intends to return to world-class competition and chase a fifth Olympic berth.

"After Sochi, I thought a lot about my future and the goals I still want to achieve," Randall said in a release from the U.S. Ski Team. "I was always committed to continue racing, but Jeff and I also wanted to start a family. We felt this was a good time. I'm excited about becoming a mother, but am also looking forward to coming back to race in 2017."

Though Randall won't be a factor in international racing this season, she'll spend some time on the circuit as a spectator, the ski team said. Ellis is a marketing support manager on the World Cup tour, a job he will continue this winter.

As it turns out, this winter will be without two of cross-country skiing's biggest female stars. Norway's Marit Bjoergen, a 10-time Olympic medalist, is pregnant with her first child, due in December.

The Randall-Ellis baby will represent the fourth generation of one of Alaska's most successful athletic families.

Randall's grandfather, the late Lew Haines, was a former athletic director at UAA and a top age-group athlete in Anchorage who remained active into his 80s. Her uncle Chris Haines and aunt Betsy Haines were members of the national ski team and both were selected to Olympic teams (Chris in 1976, Betsy in 1980), and both Betsy and Randall's mom, Debbie Haines, are former Mount Marathon champions, as is Randall.

Randall has defied odds throughout her career, becoming the first cross-country skier since the 1980s Bill Koch era to demonstrate that Americans can hold their own against Europeans. She has been credited with the rise of nordic skiing in the United States, which has become a force on the women's side in recent years, with Randall setting the tone.

Her next goal is to return to world-class skiing as a mother.

"If anyone has the tenacity and the drive to return to World Class form after starting a family, it is Kikkan," Chris Grover, a West High graduate who is the head coach of the U.S. cross-country team, said in the ski team's press release. "She understands the hard work and the form that is necessary to be a champion, and she is already showing the determination to return to the sport and to win."

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