World Cup cross-country ski races in Minnesota are back on for 2024
After a lengthy delay due to the pandemic, plans to host a World Cup cross-country skiing event in Minnesota — the first held in the U.S. in more than 20 years — are back on for 2024.
Organizers announced Wednesday that the Loppet Cup is tentatively set to take place Feb. 17-19, 2024, at Wirth Park in Minneapolis.
“I’m excited to give ski fans from around the U.S. a chance to see the action up close for the first time in over 20 years,” said Minnesota native and Olympic medalist Jessie Diggins in a news release. “I am so proud to represent Minnesota as one of the first American athletes to win Olympic gold in cross-country, and now to bring the sport I love to the state I call home.”
Plans for a World Cup event at Wirth Park were first announced in 2018 — the same year Diggins and teammate Kikkan Randall won gold in the team sprint at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
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Preparations continued for more than a year. The World Cup event was scheduled to take place in March 2020 and draw 20,000 spectators — but it was canceled just days before the scheduled start as the coronavirus pandemic spread rapidly across the state and around the world.
The Loppet Foundation and the Share Winter Foundation will be hosting the 2024 races — and they say that work will build off preparations for the 2020 event.
“The Loppet is thrilled to bring the world to Wirth Park and to showcase on an international stage the work this organization is doing to expand access to the sport of cross-country skiing and the outdoors,” Claire Wilson, executive director of the Loppet Foundation, said in a news release.
“While it is unusual for an event of this size and scope to be hosted by a small nonprofit, we believe it is important to shine a light on our unique venue in the heart of a city where the well-being of all is promoted through outdoor adventure. We look forward to sharing our vision for a just and equitable winter sport environment with the world — while also cheering on our favorite athletes on the same trails where hundreds of Minnesotans have learned to love cross-country skiing.”
The 2024 event is set to include racing on Feb. 17 and 18; organizers say the races will be free to watch. A free community ski day is tentatively planned for Feb. 19, 2024.