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Diggins Fourth in Minneapolis 

By Courtney Harkins
February, 17 2024
Jessie Diggins smiles and waves at the crowd after finishing fourth at the Stifel Loppet Cup. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Dustin Satloff)

In front of 20,000 screaming fans in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jessie Diggins sprinted to fourth place in her hometown at the Stifel Loppet Cup. 

It was a chilly day, but it didn’t stop massive crowds from showing up at Minneapolis’ Wirth Park, armed with cowbells, bibs and homemade signs for the first day of racing. Fans packed the park, running from location to location to cheer on their favorite athletes on the hard-packed track at the first World Cup in the United States in more than 23 years.  

From a stacked start list of Stifel U.S. Ski Team athletes, eight Americans qualified through to the heats in the skate sprint: Diggins, Julia Kern, Rosie Brennan and Sammy Smith for the women, and Gus Schumacher, JC Schoonmaker, Zak Ketterson and Kevin Bolger for the men. 

The heats were rowdy. Kern had a near-crash with Frida Karlsson of Sweden, forcing her out of contention in her quarterfinal heat. Brennan and Smith were in the same quarterfinal heat, but did not move on to semis. Schumacher, Schoonmaker, Ketterson and Bolger also did not move out of quarterfinals. 

Diggins sailed through both the quarterfinals and semis, finishing in first place for both. In the finals, she was locked in a battle with Jonna Sundling and Linn Svahn of Sweden and Kristine Stavaas Skistad of Norway, but was beaten out to just miss the podium. But that didn’t matter to Diggins, who was thrilled to be racing in her home state and in front of her friends and family. 

“We’ve been keeping track and I've cried seven times today and all for the best reasons,” said Diggins, who was instrumental in bringing the World Cup to Minneapolis. “I’ve dreamed about this for my entire career. I thought about what it would be like to race in my own country for 300 World Cups and this blew me away. This is the coolest day in my entire racing career. It was so special. It was really overwhelming.” 

Out of the eight athletes in the heats, three hail from the midwest: Diggins from Afton, Minnesota, Ketterson from Bloomington, Minnesota and Bolger from Minocqua, Wisconsin. While all of the Stifel U.S. Ski Team athletes were excited to race in their home country, it was particularly special for these three.

“This exceeded any expectations I could have ever had,” said Ketterson. “It was the loudest, most well-attended race. You go to races like Holmenkollen with a lot of fans, and they’re never cheering for you. Hearing ‘Zak, Zak, Zak!’ and then when they announced that I was from Bloomington, the crowd was just yelling. That’s why you ski.”

Rounding out the American women, Brennan was 21st, Smith 26th, Kern 27th, Ava Thurston 40th, Haley Brewster 41st, Alayna Sonnesyn 44th, Renae Anderson 48th, Sydney Palmer-Leger 49th, Margie Freed 50th and Michaela Keller-Miller 51st. On the men’s side, Schumacher was 17th, Bolger 20th, Ketterson 21st, Schoomaker 28th, Jack Young 33rd, John Steel Hagenbuch 37th, Will Koch 38th, Michael Earnhart 44th, Zanden McMullen 46th, Adam Witkowski 53rd, Luke Jager 62nd and Walker Hall 67th.  

The race continues on Sunday with a 10k skate.