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The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

World Cup Nordic races on Park’s home course

Stifel Loppet Cup held in Minneapolis

20,000 fans from across Minnesota, the U.S. and the world congregated at Theodore Wirth Park for the Nordic ski Stifel Loppet Cup races this past weekend. The first World Cup in the U.S. since 2001, it included a skate sprint race on Saturday, Feb. 17, and a 10k skate race on Sunday, Feb. 18. The Loppet Foundation also hosted a “ski fun day” on Monday, Feb. 19, where spectators could meet U.S. Ski Team skiers and ski the sprint course. The parking lots of Wirth Park were filled with booths and tents from sponsors such as Le Gruyère AOP cheese, local organizations like Save the Boundary Waters and ski brands like Fischer and Salomon.

Saturday’s sprint race involved four races per gender group: the qualification round, followed by the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the finals round that included the top six skiers. Minnesota native Jessie Diggins finished fourth in the finals, behind Norwegian Kristine Skistad in third and Swedes Linn Svahn and Jonna Sundling in second and first, respectively. There were no U.S. men in the finals, but world-renowned Norwegian skier Johannes Klaebo won in a thrilling battle with Italian Federico Pellegrino.

General admission tickets were free, but sold out weeks before the event. A set of grandstand bleachers were set up right in front of the start and finish lines, so spectators could watch the intensity of the competition at the end of the race. Park’s Nordic ski team bought a cheer zone using funds it had raised pre-season, which allowed students to watch the race up-close right along the trail.

Sunday’s 10 kilometer distance race was quite eventful for the U.S. Ski Team. In his first World Cup podium, Gus Schumacher won the race by five seconds — this was the first time a U.S. man has won a Nordic distance race since 1983. Schumacher beat Klaebo, regarded as the greatest skier in men’s Nordic skiing history, by 6.5 seconds. An American win on American soil was unexpected, but highly celebrated by the crowd of American fans at Wirth that day. His teammates Scott Patterson and Zanden McMullen both finished in the top 25, earning 22nd and 25th respectively.

On the women’s side, Diggins also had a victorious race, achieving a third place podium position. The Loppet Stifel Cup was Diggins’ first race in the U.S. since she was 19 years old, and her first race at Theodore Wirth Park since she competed on the Stillwater High School team. The podium moved her to the number one slot in the World Cup Nordic ski standing, bumping Swedish competitor Linn Svhann, who she beat by three seconds.

U.S. Ski Team World Cup and Olympic skier Julia Kern got 19th on Sunday, just 48 seconds behind her teammate Diggins. Kern said the energy of the crowd made the race exciting and memorable.

“Today was a dream come true. It was electric. I couldn’t hear myself breathe the entire race and that was just so amazing. I was numb,” Kern said. “My ears were ringing and I was pushing so hard. The crowd made it an unbelievable day that I’m never going to forget.”

Two other U.S. women finished in the top 25 along with Diggins and Kern, with Sophia Laukli in 15th and Rosie Brennan in 22nd. Many of the World Cup skiers also competed on Saturday, Feb. 24 in the 50k skate and 53k classic American Birkebeiner races in Cable, Wisconsin.

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Modesty Manion
Modesty Manion, Multimedia Editor
Hi there! My name is Modesty, I’m a senior and it’s my third year on Echo. This year I'm Echo's Multimedia Editor, and I am so excited to grow Echo's digital impact! I'm on the varsity nordic ski team, as well as the cross country team, and I love coffee, Gilmore Girls, pop culture, hiking, camping and thrifting. 

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