Minnesota to host 1st World Cup XC ski event in US since ‘01

FILE - United States' Jessie Diggins competes during the women's 10km classic cross-country...
FILE - United States' Jessie Diggins competes during the women's 10km classic cross-country skiing competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Feb. 10, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China. U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, that Diggins’ home state of Minnesota will host a World Cup cross country ski event next February — a rare home-course advantage for the Americans. The races will be held at a scenic park in the middle of Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)(Aaron Favila | AP)
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 12:05 PM CST
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Three-time Olympic cross-country skiing medalist Jessie Diggins can’t wait to show off Minnesota to her competitors.

To the world, too.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced Wednesday that Diggins’ home state of Minnesota will host a World Cup cross country ski event next February, giving the Americans a rare home-course advantage. This marks the first World Cup event the U.S. has hosted in the sport since 2001. The races will be held at Wirth Park in Minneapolis.

“This will be huge,” Diggins said of bringing a sport that’s European-event heavy to the state known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

“This will be the first time we’re able to show all the people who believe in us, who are passionate about cross-country skiing, who are getting involved in the sport — this is our chance to show them what it looks like and to share that energy with them,” Diggins added. “It’s really going to inspire a lot of people.”

A World Cup stop in Minnesota was originally scheduled to take place in March 2020. But just days before the races were to take place the event was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, it’s slated to be back on the schedule for President’s Day weekend (Feb. 17-19, 2024), pending International Ski Federation confirmation. It’s being hosted by the ski team, along with nonprofit organizations the Loppet Foundation and Share Winter Foundation.

“We know that this event will be a huge success and allow our athletes to showcase their incredible talent in front of a community that has always supported this sport, and inspire the next generation of cross country skiers,” president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard Sophie Goldschmidt said.

Diggins was nine years old the last time a World Cup cross-country skiing event took place on U.S. snow. It was at Soldier Hollow, Utah, in January 2001 — a test event before the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

“I did know a lot about cross country back then. I grew up pretty much skiing before I could walk,” cracked the 31-year-old Diggins, who hails from Afton, Minnesota. “Being able to finally race at this level in the United States, in my own country, that’s something I’ve been dreaming about.”

Over her storied career, Diggins has won 14 World Cup races, including a 20-kilometer individual start in Switzerland two months ago, with teammate Rosie Brennan taking third.

Diggins has captured Olympic medals of every color, too — gold from the team sprint at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, along with silver (sprint freestyle) and bronze (30-kilometer mass start) last February at the Beijing Olympics.

She’s already looking forward to competing in front of family and friends.

“The kids are going to line the course and be an arm’s length from the best athletes in the entire world,” said Diggins, who plans to compete at least through the 2026 Winter Games in Italy. “I’m so excited to share this with everyone.”

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AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports