Note: We received this essay and the photo of Kikkan at her first World Championships 12 years ago today. We enjoyed it and felt it was worth sharing.
We are currently completely saturated with soul. These are the moments we live for.
Most of us spend our lives chasing something we think is big. Some get lucky and find something along the way that works well for them, and they get to sit back and enjoy what life has handed them. Other kids aren’t as lucky, and life forces them to work harder to get what they are chasing. All said and done, these people tend to “live” a little more and others tend to notice them.
And then there are some kids that are the least lucky of all. They never seem to have it all that easy, and life is delivered as a constant voice that says “you aren’t there yet, you have to keep pushing.” These are the unlucky few who tend to dream well beyond what the rest of us can comprehend. Not only are they forced to push past the limits, they have to push with no limits, and the pushing never stops. When all is said and done, these are the poeple that everyone notices.
But for all types of people plodding along chasing their personal dreams – big or small – life appears to be a constant battle whether you are winning or whether you losing. And it’s the battle that makes the few moments of winning stand out. Without the battle, there is no victory.
Everyone that has aspired to greatness in the US nordic world can relate to that battle. Even me – who’s humble battle remained confined to living in a van and roller skiing alone in the rain – is feeling the victory of the incredibly priceless battle that is being won by American nordic skiers. This victory is priceless because every athlete has one major breakthrough, and if US skiing is that athlete then THIS is that breakthrough.
And look at us go! It used to be that nordies where just the goofy Americans that pranced around the woods in spandex, but now every time us civvies turn around someone is totally killing it on the world scale and it comes with a freaking music video! This is IT. This is what you have always aspired to be. You have found the stoke and the stoke has found you. You have grown out of athletic adolescence and are taking the steps to build credibility as the adult you were destined to become.
So as an athletic culture, us nordies have been that last kind of kid that has it the worst. Life has never been easy, and our love for an esoteric sport that our country doesn’t understand has forced us to keep pushing on alone, and to dream well beyond what our contemporaries can comprehend. Not to mention the fact that ski training itself begs dedication like no other.
I mean when was the last time an American track sprinter had to completely redefine their approach to the sport – and themselves – to win an Olympic Gold? How many times do you think an NBA player had to cram every minute of their lives into a boxy-rigid little block training plan with absolutely no role models or hope of success? They would not understand this kind of dilemma. “Without Hope”, indeed.
SO THIS IS IT. This is the moment of soul. You have failed and worked, and failed and worked harder in the darkness of your highest dreams, and you are coming into the light that you always knew was there.
Right now our soul is on fire because as Americans we believe that if you work hard enough your dreams will come true. So right now in this moment you are emanating the American spirit in it’s most pristine form.
I am humbled and inspired by the dedication shown by the nordic skiers of today. And I think I speak for all the other 9-5’ers watching these races from back home when I say that every time I look out the window I wish I was also out there crushing it every day and giving them total hell with no end in sight. And may the pushing never stop. Because for you there is no end.
The NNF's mission is to support athletic excellence in developing nordic athletes in the United States.
“To the people behind NNF: Simply put we couldn’t do it without NNF behind us! Rallying the country behind us, making sure our athletes get to the camps and races… You guys rock!”- Kikkan Randall