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Olympic Champion Jessie Diggins Shines Gold on Minnesota
Jessie Diggins (center in red) speaks with fans. (Photo by Allison Kaplan)

Olympic Champion Jessie Diggins Shines Gold on Minnesota

The Afton native wants to bring home cross country skiing’s world championship.

Jessie Diggins carried her gold medal in the back pocket of her jeans as her homecoming tour rolled into St. Paul-based Podiumwear on Friday. The custom team apparel manufacturer is one of several Minnesota companies and organizations feeling the golden glow that surrounds the Afton native, who won Team USA’s first gold medal in Nordic skiing at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
 
Diggins wants to bring home more than gold. The 26-year-old’s new mission is to bring the International Ski Federation World Ski Championship to Wirth Park in Minneapolis in 2020. It would be her first championship race in Minnesota—and in the U.S. 
 
“Minnesota is the heart of the skiing nation. We have the most high school skiers. We’re the center of where skiing happens,” Diggins told a small crowd of local Nordic ski coaches and student athletes at Podiumwear. “It’s important for people here to watch the event. And it would be really cool to have the homefield advantage for the first time in my life.”
 
She met with Gov. Mark Dayton Thursday evening about making a bid in the next month to bring cross country skiing’s World Cup home. With her infectious energy and passion for the sport, she’s won the support of many lawmakers, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, and the Minneapolis-based Loppet Foundation, which estimates the cost of hosting the sporting event at $1.2 million.
 
“As soon as she won, Jessie emailed us, and we were in,” Loppet Foundation executive director John Munger says.
 
Podiumwear, which started working with Diggins in 2013, seized the moment on Friday to introduce the “Afton Pullover,” the first item from its new casual wear line inspired by Diggins’ desire to have something she could put on after races. Company founder and CEO Reid Lutter, who also founded the National Nordic Foundation, says Podiumwear—which is on track to hit $2 million in sales this year—will be rolling out more Diggins products in the coming months. Says Lutter, “She’s lightning in a bottle.”