By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Content Agency
Celebrity Travel by Jae-Ha Kim
December 10, 2013
Three-time Olympian Kikkan Randall was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she made her Olympic debut at the 2002 Winter Games. While the cross-country skier will have to wait until the end of January to learn if she has won a spot to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, she's prepared to represent the United States for a fourth Olympics. Randall, 30, resides in Anchorage, Alaska, with her husband. Fans may follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kikkanimal.
Q. Where is your favorite place to go recreational skiing?
A. In the springtime in the mountains above Anchorage, we get a special condition where the snow freezes hard overnight and creates a crust layer that you can float on top of on your skate skis. I love skiing on this crust because you don't have to follow a trail. You can ski wherever your heart takes you. There are usually all sorts of natural terrain features, too, and I love jumping off things and really playing on my skis!
Q. Do you prefer cold or warm weather destinations for vacations?
A. I spend so much of the year chasing winter around for my career that I love to go to warm places on vacation!
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. My husband and I really like going south to Maui for vacation. We bring our road bikes to see the island. Definitely road bike the West Maui loop and the road out to Hana. Beautiful scenery! We have fun challenging our balance and core strength with paddle-boarding and enjoy the relaxed vibe of the island. Our favorite spot on the island is up on the volcano in Kula, a little spot called Grandma's Coffee Shop (http://www.grandmascoffee.com). There is a cool winery where you can sample pineapple wine. We like to stop in there on the way back from one of our favorite rides.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. Collingwood, Ontario. This is the place where my husband's family lives and it's a nice blend of relaxing time at the lake, golf courses, great running and biking trails and still close enough to enjoy the advantages of the big city, Toronto.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. The first trip I really remember as a kid was traveling to a family reunion in Sarasota, Fla. We stayed on the beach in Siesta Key and the whole extended family was there, including a bunch of cousins that I grew up very close with. I just remember playing out in the water and sand all day and just nonstop action. I loved it, except for the sunburn.
Q. What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A. You never need as much stuff as you think you need. Try to pack light and simple and just be ready for whatever you encounter. Some of my best experiences have come from unplanned and unexpected chance meetings. It's great to be free to explore what looks interesting.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. The town of Girdwood, about 45 minutes south of Anchorage, is a great weekend getaway. In the summer there is great hiking and biking. In the winter there is resort skiing, back-country skiing and brand-new cross-country ski trails. There are several hometown restaurants down there that we love and if you want to fancy it up a little bit, there is a fun restaurant at the top of the tram with a view that's amazing.
Q. If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A. Due to my racing schedule, I actually have spent the last few Christmas holidays away from home. My husband and I really enjoyed spending Christmas in Davos, Switzerland. It's like living in an old-fashioned postcard. There are sleigh rides going by you and the smell of fondue in the air. It's very majestic and romantic there.
Q. What are your favorite types of hotels?
A. I love hotels with good fitness rooms and great breakfast spreads.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. Besides Anchorage, Stockholm, Oslo, Munich, Seattle and New York City.
Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?
A. Whistler, British Columbia.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. My travel pillow, travel speakers and my stuffed animal cat that reminds me of our two cats back home.
Q. What would be your dream trip?
A. I would love to travel down the western U.S. with my husband in a Eurovan camper and check out all the national parks by running, hiking, biking and paddling.
Q. What type of places do you look for when you eat out?
A. I love restaurants that challenge themselves to use high-quality whole food sources and make delicious meals that are both good for you and taste delicious.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A. I love the fresh baked bread in Europe. Sometimes I can eat a whole loaf in one sitting without even realizing it. I mean, just one more piece, right?
Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. Modern technology has made it so much more fun heading to new places when you can look up fun facts about the place before you get there. I love just typing the place into Google to see what comes up. Let the imagination go from there!
Q. What is your best vacation memory?
A. On my 16th birthday we were on a family vacation in Florida and we decided to go jet skiing. The legal age to drive a watercraft there is 16, so I got my own jet ski and I remember having so much fun driving my brother and sister around. It was a few weeks before I got my driver's license, so it was my first taste of being able to drive on my own.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
(c) 2013 JAE-HA KIM DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.