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Gus Schumacher makes U.S. cross-country skiing history in Minneapolis

Gus Schumacher became the youngest American to win a World Cup cross-country skiing race — and the first U.S. man to win in a decade — at the Stifel Loppet Cup in Minneapolis on Sunday.

Schumacher, 23, had a best World Cup finish of fourth before his breakthrough victory in the first World Cup stop in the U.S. in 23 years.

In an interval start 10km, he skied into the lead by 8.6 seconds with the top Norwegians still to come.

None of them could better his time. World Cup leader Harald Østberg Amundsen came the closest, but still 4.4 seconds back.

“It’s hard to believe,” Schumacher said. “I hope this is the first of many.

“This has been the best day ever.”

Schumacher became the third U.S. man to win on the World Cup after Simi Hamilton, who won a Tour de Ski stage in 2013, and Bill Koch, the only U.S. man to win an Olympic cross-country medal who also won five World Cups in the 1980s.

Noah Hoffman also had the fastest time in a pursuit in 2013, though he was ninth overall in the race.

Schumacher broke fellow Alaskan Kikkan Randall’s record as the youngest American to win a World Cup.

In 2020, Schumacher became the first American cross-country skier to win an individual junior world title. He made his Olympic debut in 2022 with individual finishes of 39th and 48th.

Also Sunday, Jessie Diggins took third in the women’s 10km for her American record-extending 11th individual race podium of the season.

Diggins, whose hometown of Afton is 25 miles east of Minneapolis, finished 31.8 seconds behind Swedish winner Jonna Sundling, who also took Saturday’s sprint.

“I’ve cried a lot because this is so special,” Diggins said of the home World Cup after finishing fourth in Saturday’s sprint. “The whole country showed up, and it took so much from so many people to make this happen. It was pretty emotional to be with a lot of teammates who should have gotten to do this during their careers, and they didn’t, and they’re still here. They’re still part of it.”

Diggins had lobbied for a World Cup race in her home state since teaming with Randall for that 2018 Olympic title.

A Minneapolis World Cup was first added for March 2020, but canceled five days before the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Diggins leads the World Cup overall standings by 257 points and is likely en route to her second World Cup overall title come the end of the season next month.

In 2021, Diggins became the first non-European woman to win an overall title.