It’s been a long time coming, but in February 2024, World Cup cross country ski racing returns to the U.S. for the first time in more than 20 years. This week, the Loppet Foundation, Share Winter Foundation and U.S. Ski and Snowboard announced that the World Cup will make a stop in Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Wirth Park, slated for President’s Day weekend, Feb. 17-19, 2024 (the International Ski and Snowboard Federation still needs to give final date confirmation, which should come when it approves schedules in June). The Loppet Foundation and Share Winter will serve as hosts of the Loppet Cup, which will also be one of the only World Cups to be held in a major metropolitan area.
A key advocate for this U.S-based World Cup has been, not surprisingly, Jessie Diggins, who grew up in nearby Afton, Minnesota. She not only relishes the opportunity to race in front of a hometown crowd but is excited about the potential impact of racing in the city setting. “I think of how many kids would get to see and experience that kind of energy,” she said in a pre-season call with media last November. “I mean, I raced a lot of races in my life, but the first time we went to a World Cup, that energy was electric. It was so cool. It felt bigger than big. I felt so inspired. And I want everyone to experience that.”
The Loppet Foundation had planned to host a World Cup in mid-March 2020, which was canceled when the world shut down amid Covid at exactly that time. According to U.S. Ski and Snowboard, 10,000 tickets had already been sold for the scheduled Tuesday evening sprint race.
The 2024 Loppet Cup will host races on Saturday, February 17, and Sunday, February 18, followed by a free community ski day on February 19. Organizers say that the World Cup will be free to watch.
Since 2002, the nonprofit Loppet Foundation has worked to engage all community members in cross country skiing and other outdoor recreation through its programming and events. Hosting a World Cup race is a huge undertaking. In a news release about the event, Claire Wilson, the foundation’s executive director , said, “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.”
The Loppet Foundation’s host partner, Share Winter, is a nonprofit that provides grants to organizations working to increase access among youth to winter sports.
Before the Minneapolis races, World Cup athletes will compete in two sprint races and two distance races in Alberta, Canada, from February 9-13, as part of their North American visit.