Gus Schumacher, a 23-year-old from Alaska, won the men's 10-kilometer freestyle race at Theodore Wirth Park on Sunday, becoming the first American man to win a World Cup cross-country skiing distance event since 1983.

The race used a staggered start, with skiers going off every 30 seconds. Schumacher started 35th out of 76 skiers and finished in 20 minutes, 52.7 seconds. Then he waited.

The leaders in the World Cup standings, all Norwegians, were all still on the course. One by one, they finished, and Schumacher remained atop the leaderboard.

Overall points leader Harald Oestberg Amundsen, who is also on top of the distance standings, arrived first, in 20:57.1, good for only second place. Then came Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, Saturday's sprint champion, in 20:59.02. The last skier to worry about was Paal Golberg, who started 70th. He crossed the finish line in 20:58.5, in third place.

Chants of "Gus! Gus! Gus!" and "U-S-A! U-S-A!" filled the stadium. Schumacher was mobbed by his U.S. teammates, and skiers from other countries joined in the celebration. He was in tears in a postrace interview.

"This has been the best day ever ... Thank you, Minneapolis!" he said.

The weekend races in Minneapolis were the first World Cup events held in the United States in 23 years. And entering the weekend, the hopes for an American champion in any of the four races rested largely on Jessie Diggins, the Afton native who leads the women's World Cup standings.

A couple hours after Schumacher's victory, Diggins finished third in women's 10k, her signature event.

Race results: Men's 10k | Women's 10k

After Schumacher was done racing, he was ushered to the chair at the finish line reserved for the leader. He said he's only sat in that seat for 15 or 30 seconds in previous races, because someone faster always came along.

"To see that time keep holding up, I was like, 'Oh, my God, I really did ski a crazy race,' " he said. "To have this happen today, I couldn't even imagine. I always try to do my best, but usually my best is not the podium."

Schumacher entered the race 22nd in the overall World Cup standings and 18th in distance events. His career-best result before Sunday was a fourth-place finish in a freestyle sprint race in the 2023-24 Tour de Ski. He is now only the third American man to win a World Cup race, following Bill Koch in 1983 and Simeon Hamilton in 2013.

It's been an outstanding World Cup season for the American men, who had already reached the podium twice in the same season for the first time since 1983.

In December, JC Schoonmaker, a 23-year-old Californian, was third in a sprint race in Ă–stersund, Sweden, the first World Cup podium finish for an American man since 2017. A few weeks later, Ben Ogden, a 24-year-old from Vermont, finished third in the sprint race in the Tour de Ski.

Star Tribune writer Rachel Blount contributed reporting.