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Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Celebrate a Season Worth Remembering

By Leann Bentley - Stifel U.S. Ski Team
April, 18 2024

The cross country ski season has officially wrapped and the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team is celebrating the most successful season in history. 

Looking back at the first World Cup of the season in Ruka, Finland, Rosie Brennan was on the podium twice, alongside teammate Jessie Diggins. The season was clearly off to a strong start, but if you were to tell the 20+ athletes and coaching staff that they were on the way to their most successful season in history, well, they likely already knew. 

This season, there were no World Championships and Olympics, but there was one race that felt like the two of them combined - the Stifel Loppet Cup in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Head Coach Matt Whitcomb, in an interview with FasterSkier, remarked, "We often talk about athletes peaking for big events, but I'd never considered that our American ski culture could peak for an event." This was the first time in over 23 years that a World Cup cross country event have been held in the United States and was the first time that the U.S. athletes would get the opportunity to race a World Cup on home snow. 

Jumping into the season, with 15 World Cups and over 35 races, the Stifel U.S. Ski Team achieved remarkable success: 22 World Cup podiums, spanning 38 races with six different athletes on the podium, an overall FIS Crystal Globe, a distance Globe, fourth place in the Nations Cup, third place in the U23 Rookie of the Year category, numerous first World Cup starts, and career-best results nearly every race.

Breaking down the numbers:
  • 40 American athletes started a World Cup, with six standing on the podium.
  • Jessie Diggins secured the FIS Overall Crystal Globe and distance globe for the second time in her career, boasting 12 podiums and six victories in a single season, setting a record for most wins in a single American season.
  • Jessie Diggins won the Tour de Ski for the second time in her career. 
  • Gus Schumacher achieved the first distance victory by a U.S. male in 43 years, dating back to the Bill Koch era, with his win in the 10k skate in Minneapolis.
  • JC Schoonmaker earned his career-first podium in the Östersund World Cup classic sprint, becoming the first U.S. man in seven years to reach the podium.
  • Ben Ogden clinched his first podium during the Tour de Ski, securing third place in the Toblach World Cup skate sprint.
  • Rosie Brennan secured five individual podiums, including two in one weekend in Ruka, Finland.
  • Sophia Laukli claimed her first World Cup win and second podium, dominating the Alpe Cermis hill climb on the final stage of the Tour de Ski.
  • Zanden McMullen achieved several career-best races, finishing the season ranked third in the world for men under 23.
  • Sammy Smith won a silver medal at the Junior World Championships in Planica, Slovenia, becoming the first American to win a sprint medal at this event.
  • John Steel Hagenbuch earned a sprint bronze medal at the U23 World Championships.
  • Haley Brewster secured second place in the U23s 20k skate race.

While the points above are highlights, the 2023-24 season was bright beyond podium finishes and top 10 rankings. The Stifel Loppet Cup in Minneapolis showcased the vibrant culture of cross-country skiing in America and offered a glimpse into the future. With approximately 40,000 fans attending the Saturday and Sunday races, the world took notice of the event. Statements like "I couldn't hear myself breathe it was so loud," "This is what all World Cups should look like," and "Magic in Minneapolis" echoed from the world's best athletes as they visited the U.S. for the first World Cup in over 23 years. Then, to have six different athletes on the podium throughout the season, met by the first World Cup starts from several young Americans to career-best results at nearly every race, the Stifel U.S. Ski Team showed that they are the team to beat. 

As the season drew to a close, it became evident that the 23 athletes making up the roster had raised the bar for what is achievable in American skiing and as athletes return to training, the 2024-25 season has already begun, with the door wide open for what can happen next.