Nordic skiers still looking for snow, develop home away from home
Les Martin and his Cloquet-Esko-Carlton Nordic ski team is so familiar with Mount Itasca Ski Resort this winter, it's like skiing in town.
That town, however, is 71 miles away.
The bus trip to Coleraine, Minn., has become a seemingly weekly occurrence for the Lumberjacks this season. Of their five meets thus far, four have been at Mount Itasca, while the other was at Spirit Mountain.
That's because of the season's minuscule snow accumulation. With most of the area's trails not up to par, man-made snow is about all that's available for cross country skiers this winter.
"We're lucky, actually," Martin said. "It's worked out."
Martin took his bunch up Highway 2 Tuesday afternoon to Mount Itasca again, where the CEC girls placed fifth out of nine teams, while the boys failed to field a full team due to injuries and sickness.
Cloquet's Alyssa Michaelson and Esko's Molly Meysembourg and Elly Siptroth paced the girls, while Carlton's Duncan Fox, Esko's Matt Rengo and Cloquet's Josh Carlson led the boys' individual performances.
"It's been tough, but the kids have been hanging in there," Martin said. "We're wishing for some snow."
Due to the lack of snow, CEC's annual Pine Valley Invitational might be shifted to Duluth's Spirit Mountain next week, according to Martin. The event is tentatively set for Pine Valley next Tuesday, Jan. 10.
"We haven't even skied at Pine Valley yet," Martin said. "We've been on golf courses, lakes and everything else, but not our home course. [Pine Valley] is pretty close to being ready in parts, but the front is really bare. All the snow we get just blows away. It's been a battle, but we'll try working something out so [the invitational] can still go on, wherever it might be."
The CEC Nordic team will next be in action in Saturday's all-day meet at Giants Ridge, where roughly 1,200 skiers will participate in the country's biggest race.
The CEC alpine team will also return to the slopes soon, when they head to Giants Ridge on Thursday, Jan. 5, and to Mont du Lac next Thursday, Jan. 12.