No Retina
XS Screen (480px)
SM+ Screen
SM Screen (768px)
SM- Screen
MD+ Screen
MD Screen (992px)
MD- Screen
LG+ Screen
LG Screen (1200px)
LG- Screen
XL+ Screen (1600px)

Magic in Minneapolis: Schumacher Wins, Diggins Third

By Courtney Harkins
February, 18 2024
jessie gus
Jessie Diggins hoists Gus Schumacher after his win at the Stifel Loppet Cup. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Gretchen Powers)

With tears streaming down their faces, Gus Schumacher won his first career World Cup and Jessie Diggins stepped on the podium in third place at the Stifel Loppet Cup in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The weather warmed up for Sunday’s race with a deep crew of Americans ready to attack the 10k skate course. The crowd showed up in droves, with another 20,000 people arriving to see their favorite ski racers race the local track at Wirth Park. 

The men went first, with Stifel U.S. Ski Team’s Schumacher skiing a strong race to take the lead, but he would have to sit for more than 40 athletes to see if the result would hold. Racer after racer came through the finish line as Schumacher’s eyes grew wider, continuing to beat Olympic medalists and world champions. His teammates gathered around him in the leader's box with tears beginning to flow as the last racer crossed the finish line, confirming Schumacher’s win with yells and hugs.

“It’s hard to believe,” said a teary-eyed Schumacher. “I’m just so grateful for this whole team and everyone being here. It represents something big for our team and I really love doing it with these guys… This has been the best day ever.”

Schumacher was the first American man to win a distance World Cup in 41 years, since Olympic silver medalist Bill Koch won in a 30k in Sarajevo in 1983. The last American man to win a non-distance race was Simi Hamilton, who took a sprint in Lenzerheide in 2013, 11 years ago. Schumacher had also never podiumed; his previous best result was fourth. 

It was also another feather in the cap for the successful Stifel U.S. Ski Team men, who have now accrued three podiums this season from three men: Schumacher, JC Schoonmaker and Ben Ogden. Prior to the 2023-24 season, the men had not had a podium since 2017.

Supporters continued to pack the course as the women took to the track. Diggins ran near the end of the start list, with every fan’s eyes on the local girl as she pushed for a top result. She left everything on the course, gasping for air and collapsing at the finish, but skied into third place to secure the podium. Surrounded by her family, friends and teammates, Diggins cried happy tears through the awards ceremony. 

“It wasn’t even about the podium,” she said. “I just had the best day ever out there. No one had more fun than me, except maybe Gus because it’s his day! I’m so proud of him. It was so emotional. The whole team was over the moon for him. That was an incredible day.”

More than that, the Stifel Loppet Cup in Minneapolis was about bringing World Cup cross country ski racing back to the United States for the first time in more than 23 years. 40,000 fans showed up over the two days with signs, banners and cowbells. Tears were shed by athletes, staff, and fans throughout the weekend: the first time the skiers skied the buffed-out track, when crowds walked miles to pack the stands and sides of the course, when the U.S. national anthem was sung over the loudspeaker, when thousands of young girls and boys lined up for autographs from their heroes and get glitter put on their cheeks. 

“I feel like this whole weekend was huge for the growth of skiing in this country,” said Diggins, who had been a massive part of bringing this World Cup to her hometown. “Everyone got to see how much people love this sport. People are psyched. We wanted this for a long time. It’s incredible that we got to experience it together and share it.”

Rounding out the Americans, Stifel U.S. Ski Team’s Sophia Laukli snagged a top 15 result in 15th place. Julia Kern was 19th and Rosie Brennan 22nd and Haley Brewster 25th. Brewster had her first two World Cup starts in Minneapolis and secured impressive results. Sydney Palmer-Leger was 32nd, Kendall Kramer 36th, Movie McCabe 37th, Margie Freed 41st, Sammy Smith 42nd, Alexandra Lawson 50th and Alayna Sonnesyn 51st. 

On the men’s side in the top 30, Scott Patterson was 22nd, Zanden McMullen 25th and John Steel Hagenbuch 30th. David Norris was 35th, Luke Jager 39th, Hunter Wonders 47th, Peter Wolter 52nd, Walker Hall 56th, Michael Earnhart 61st, Reid Goble 64th and Brian Bushey 67th.