The cross-country skiing World Cup could return to the Northland in 2024.
The International Ski Federation, the sport's governing body, included Minneapolis and Cable on its long-term calendar released Wednesday. The calendar is a list of potential sites for the World Cup, a season-long tour of races for participating countries' most elite skiers.
Minneapolis is listed as holding races from Friday, Feb. 16, to Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, and Cable is listed as hosting races on Thursday, Feb. 22, and Saturday Feb. 24, 2024.
But the schedule notes the dates and number of races for each location have yet to be confirmed.
"The long-term calendar will be used as a base for National Ski Associations to plan the event schedules together with their organizers," the federation said in a news release.
If events happen, it would mark the return of the World Cup to the Upper Midwest.
In a statement to the News Tribune, Kate Barido, a spokesperson for the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, said the organization put in a bid for a World Cup race in 2024 but cautioned that nothing was final as an official calendar would be decided in October.
The organization's annual American Birkebeiner, North America's largest cross-country ski race, is held annually on the last weekend of February from Cable to Hayward.
"It is likely that (the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation) will receive the bid, however it is not confirmed. The World Cup in 2024 will be the American Birkebeiner’s 50th anniversary and it would bring the World Cup back to where it first began, as the very first World Cup took place in 1978 right at Telemark, in Cable, WI," Barido said. "Ultimately, ABSF carrying through with the bid will be decided by a financial review by the ABSF board of directors. We are eager to speak with partners to secure the financial viability of this incredible opportunity."
Minneapolis was set to host a World Cup race in March 2020, but it was canceled just days before due to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic.
Claire Wilson, executive director of the Loppet Foundation in Minneapolis, which was instrumental in organizing the COVID-canceled 2020 event, told the News Tribune that the Loppet organization has not formally put a bid in to have a World Cup.
But they're strongly considering it.
"It was heartbreaking not to have it here pre-COVID and so we are absolutely in discussions with the Birkie for the potential around co-hosting a winter event," Wilson said. "But that is not official yet by any means. We had just let our intent known … that we welcome the opportunity to potentially hosting it."