Kikkan Randall, her blonde hair streaked pink, is a proven winner.
And still, because what she's trying to do has historically proven so difficult for any American to do -- there are doubters.
Americans don't win in cross-country skiing, they say.
In the Olympics they mostly have to ski classic style. Randall is a better skate-style skier, they say.
Attention, all you doubters: History shows it's foolish to doubt Kikkan Randall's tenacity, toughness and will.
And the upward arc of her career.
Randall was born in Utah and grew up in Alaska. At the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, her ninth-place finish in the 1.2-kilometer sprint proved the best Olympic finish ever by an American woman in cross-country skiing.
The next year, again in the sprint, she became the first American woman in 29 years to win a World Cup race.
This past February, at the World Championships in the Czech Republic, Randall won silver in the sprint -- the first American skier to win a Worlds medal since Bill Koch won a bronze in 1982.
Koch is the one and only American to have ever won an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing. He won a silver in Innsbruck, in 1976, in the 30-km event.
That's a long, long time without a medal.
Randall is something of a specialist, however, in beating long odds.
That silver at the World Championships? Randall won it roughly eight months after being in the hospital because of a blood clot in her left leg.
The clot was, as she has said many times since, scary. The situation was not pretty -- and yet Randall is so self-secure that she posted pictures on her own website to prove just how not pretty it was.
Same theme -- it was so painful that she was given morphine and, as she related it on her site, "apparently I was quite out of it for the next several hours, speaking gibberish and blaming everything on 'the Canadians.'"
Doctors did not blame the Canadians. They diagnosed a genetic blood-clotting disorder made more complicated by Randall's use of birth-control pills. "I really don't have any complications per se," Randall told the New York Times, "except that every once in a while I feel a strange twinge in my leg and get nervous."
Beat that, and you can do anything.
Maybe even win an Olympic medal.
As an American. Skiing the classic way.
In December, at a World Cup 15-km classic event in Rogla, Slovenia, Randall moved up from 39th halfway through to finish 30th -- her best World Cup distance result, ever. It was the kind of showing that made those who know look at 30th place with renewed appreciation.
"She's a great classic skier," Chris Grover, the U.S. Ski Team's cross-country coach, said. "She has had more success in skate sprints, yes. But there are women on the podium in classic sprint who don't have nearly the technique that Kikkan does.
"So it's more a matter of where her body is at, making sure her preparation and peaking plan come together."
Which is of course precisely what happened at last year's Worlds. And why Grover says, "We'll be looking to Kikkan during the Games for some top results."