MINOCQUA - Kevin Bolger worked hard to get to this moment.
The Lakeland Union High School grad has won his fair share of cross-country ski races since earning a high school state championship title in 2011.
But now he'll get the opportunity to represent the United States at the Cross Country World Cup series in Finland and Sweden next month.
"Skiing at this level is kind of like the next step you want to get to and ski at. I'm just beyond, I can't really explain it, I'm just super excited," said Bolger.
Bolger and two of his teammates from the Sun Valley Gold Team in Idaho competed in Upper Peninsula this weekend. After that race, Bolger found out he made the U.S. team.
"It's good to see your teammates excel. We always push each other throughout the summer and fall," said teammate Rogan Brown.
Brown and Jack Hegman look forward to seeing their teammate compete on the world stage.
"It'll be a good experience for him. It'll be nice to know you're training with one of the best guys in the world," said Hegman.
While Bolger is excited to ski and represent the U.S., he's realistic about competing against the powerhouse skiers from countries like Sweden and Norway.
"To get over there and see some of them and actually race against them will be really exciting. But it will be a humbling experience for sure," said Bolger.
That gap between the U.S. and Nordic countries may be shrinking. Wednesday night, Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins became the first cross-country skiers to win gold for the U.S. in the sport.
"Being able to see that. Being a part of it in a way, we train we some of them in the summer. It's really cool and I'm super stoked for where U.S. Skiing is going," said Bolger.
Bolger, Brown, and Hegman watched the race together Thursday morning.
"It's not that often that you wake up and cross country skiing on the TV," said Hegman. "It's cool how much attention it's getting."
Brown is excited for what a win like this will do for the sport.
"That success definitely trickles down to our skiing and to younger kids skiing. It's super cool for the sport," said Brown.
But the sport is definitely not for the faint of heart.
"I mean, yeah, we're definitely out there suffering a lot, but I think it makes it easier when you accomplish your goals," said Bolger.
Bolger was having a great season in 2017 until he developed severe frostbite while competing in Alaska.
"It definitely kind of hindered the end of my season last year. It is what it is, but I can't do anything about it. I looked forward to this year and definitely trained hard this summer," said Bolger.
That training definitely paid off as he prepares for the World Cup. It's an experience he plans to make the most of.
"It's been a goal of mine for a really long time. It keeps the fire burning," said Bolger.