For the first time in nearly two decades, a World Cup cross-country skiing event is set to take place in the U.S. — and it'll be hosted on the trails at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis.
The International Ski Federation announced Friday that Minneapolis will host World Cup cross-country ski races in March 2020.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey made the announcement at the park, where the event will be held on the new "Trailhead" facility. Frey said Olympic gold medalist and Afton, Minn., native Jessie Diggins helped bring the international event to her home state.
Diggins and teammate Kikkan Randall were the first American athletes to win a gold medal in Olympic cross-country skiing when they won the team sprint event earlier this year at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Frey said recent major sporting events held in Minnesota such as the X Games, the Ryder Cup and the Super Bowl earlier this year exceeded expectations and brought more international interest to the state of Minnesota.
"We all know the Super Bowl came to Minneapolis just this last winter and everyone was saying that we weren't going to be able to get it done — it was going to be too cold and the weather was going to be difficult. But you know what, we embraced the cold and ultimately it worked," Frey said.
Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who helped bring the City of Lakes Loppet ski race to Minneapolis, was also at Friday's announcement.
Rybak said many details of the World Cup event have yet to be worked out and organizers welcome public input.
"Over these next few months you'll be hearing a lot more about how the public can be part of this too," Rybak said.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard and The Loppet Foundation will serve as hosts of the World Cup event. It will have a budget of $1 million, Rybak said. He said the event will be mostly funded using grants and private donations.
"Hosting the World Cup is our chance to show skiers from around the World how Minnesota embraces winter — through sport and through our hospitality," Diggins said in a news release. "U.S. Ski & Snowboard and The Loppet Foundation are excited to host a world-class competition and share our state with athletes from around the world. We're equally excited to give ski fans from around the U.S. a chance to see the action up close for the first time in 19 years."
Find more information about the event at www.mnworldcup.com.