This past weekend marked a historic moment in the world of ski racing as Minneapolis, Minnesota played host to the Stifel Loppet Cup, one of the most dynamic World Cup events in the history of cross country skiing. With more than 40,000 passionate fans lining the course over the weekend, the atmosphere was nothing short of electric for the first World Cup on U.S. soil since 2001.
Highlights included Gus Schumacher winning his first ever World Cup in the 10k freestyle, becoming the youngest American ever to win a World Cup and the first American male to win a distance event since 1983, and Olympic champion Jessie Diggins podiuming in the 10k freestyle.
"I am just so grateful for this team and for everyone being here and I just think this represents something so big for our team. This has been the best day ever!" said Gus, through tears.
Diggins, a hometown hero who hails from just 30 minutes away from the venue, was equally as emotional about the event, having worked for years to get the World Cup to happen.
"I feel like this whole weekend has been huge for the growth of American skiing," said an emotional Diggins after the race. "Everyone finally got to see how much people love this sport and see how psyched everyone was. We've wanted this for so long."
Athletes found themselves awestruck by the thunderous roar of the crowd, so deafening that they could hardly hear themselves breathe. The consensus: It was the biggest, loudest and most exciting World Cup event the world's best athletes had ever experienced.
"This was something special!" said seven-time Olympic medalist Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, one of the most successful cross country skiers in history. "What an amazing crowd and atmosphere it was. So much fun racing this weekend, goosebumps!"
World Cup winner Lucas Chanavat of France expressed a similar sentiment on Instagram. "Huge congrats to Gus Schumacher for making history and giving goosebumps to everyone watching the race. Thanks Jessie Diggins for making all of this possible, and the whole U.S. Ski Team for pushing cross country skiing to new levels and showing the world how every World Cup should look like."
Among the thousands of passionate fans, athletes and families, the energy of Wirth Park brought both U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey trailside, with Frey comparing the event to the Super Bowl in terms of its significance to the city. Similar to how the 2015 Fenway Big Air in Boston, Massachusetts and 2019 Visa Big Air in Atlanta, Georgia brought skiing and snowboarding to major metro areas, the Stifel Loppet Cup did the same, with fans coming from all 50 states to witness the magic in Minneapolis, just 20 minutes from the airport. All general admission tickets were provided free of charge by the Share Winter Foundation and Loppet Foundation, ensuring an opportunity for everyone to see the inspiration up close.
World Cup events are a multimillion-dollar investment and the Stifel Loppet Cup would not have been possible without the support of the Loppet Foundation, Share Winter Foundation, the International Ski & Snowboard Federation, volunteers, key sponsors and donors. U.S. Ski & Snowboard blue chip partners were also on-site, including Stifel Financial, Kappa, iFit and Textron Aviation.
The momentum from the weekend extended into the following Monday with unprecedented community engagement. With athletes scheduled to sign autographs for 60 minutes, more than nine Stifel U.S. Ski Team athletes, including Diggins and Schumacher, sat in the chilled Minnesota air for four hours to sign autographs for kids and adults alike. With the success of the first U.S. World Cup in more than two decades, the foundation has been set for what it takes to host a world-class cross country event in the states again.
"In the wake of the Stifel Loppet Cup's resounding success, it's evident that this event wasn’t just about the results—it's about inspiring the next generation of cross country skiing across America," said Sophie Goldschmidt, President and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard. "This World Cup marks a pivotal moment in our nation's ski racing landscape, especially as we saw how many Americans were not only on the start list, but in the top 30 and on the podium. As we continue to replay this weekend in our minds, we’re reminded how important it is to bring this level of events to the U.S., knowing the impact it has not only on our athletes but the future. By investing in the infrastructure to bring World Cups to U.S. soil, we're not only showcasing our love for skiing but also laying the groundwork for a future where World Cup events include U.S. as a yearly stop on the calendar. I could not be more proud of what this team has accomplished this week right in our back yard."
The Stifel Loppet Cup is included in the slate of FIS World Cups in the United States, including four alpine, two freestyle, three snowboard/freeski and one ski jumping event. With a goal to bring more exposure to sports under U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Goldschmidt has continued to increase the amount of World Cups hosted in the states year after year.
Now, the momentum stemming from the best season in history for the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team season continues, as the team heads back to Europe for races. Diggins is leading the overall World Cup standings and continuing to etch her name in history as the only American woman to win the overall World Cup Crystal Globe.
In the end, the Stifel Loppet Cup in Minneapolis just did exactly what it needed to do, leaving its legacy as one of the important ski races in the history of the sport, inspiring generations to come and providing a blueprint for the future of World Cups around the world.
Relive the magic of the historic races by both Gus and Jessie.