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CEC skiers revel in snow

Paige Tranah and Sarah Severson, both of Esko, take a break from CEC's Lumberjack Invitational last Thursday at Spirit Mountain. Tranah finished sixth and Severson seventh to lead the girls team, which finished in eighth place. John Luomala/For the Pine Journal

CLOQUET - If you happen to chat about alpine skiing with Ryan Zimny, the Cloquet science teacher won't get too technical. However, balancing on two skis, whizzing down a snow-covered hill and trying to stay consistent for two runs, the coach will be the first to say it's a tough sport.

Last Thursday was a tough day for the Lumberjacks.

Hosting the annual Lumberjack Invitational, the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton alpine boys and girls ski teams both placed eighth of the nine participating schools last week at Spirit Mountain in Duluth.

Proctor-Hermantown won the boys division, while Cook County sped away with the girls title in an entertaining downhill event that featured 88 total racers in both divisions.

"It was an exciting time," CEC 10th-year Coach Zimny said about the busy event, despite his team's struggles at times. "The kids are skiing well. I think everyone is getting


Highlighting the Lumberjacks last week was the Esko duo of Paige Tranah and Sarah Severson. Tranah's combined time of 1 minute, 13.94 seconds placed her sixth overall, while Severson followed at 1:14.01, claiming seventh place.

"They were kind of battling each other," Zimny said of the two skiers, "but in a positive way."

"They both competed very well," said longtime area ski coach and volunteer John Luomala, noting that both girls train with the Duluth Alpine Ski Club as well.

Luomala also noted impressive runs by Esko seventh-grader Allie Granholm, who placed 63rd, while Cloquet seventh-grader Emma Lenarz took 69th. Carlton sophomores Ashley Hillstrom and Tori Anderson also pulled in 66th and 67th places, respectively, last week.

Cloquet's Jack Fossen and Isaac McMillan paced the boys with 24th and 27th place slots, while Carlton's Matt Matlack finished 47th, Esko's Sam Sinnott 67th and top-skier Alex DeRocher of Esko did not finish after a second-run fall.

Next up for the Lumberjacks is the Section 7 Meet Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Giants Ridge. The state meet will also be held at the Biwabik-based course on Feb. 15.

"We're young and don't have any seniors," Zimny said. "But I think this program is definitely growing. The section race should be an exciting one. You never know what's going to happen up there."

CEC Nordic skiers finally ski at Pine Valley

It was about three weeks ago when Les Martin breathed a sigh of relief.

Until mid-January, the

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton Nordic team had yet to ski on real snow, or even at their home venue, Cloquet's Pine Valley. Yet, according to Martin, with city workers producing and moving snow along with his team, as well as a little snowfall courtesy of Mother Nature, CEC team members have been skiing their own paths for almost a month.

"Oh, I would say about three weeks," Martin said Wednesday afternoon. "It's been quite the operation over there and it's still spotty here and there, but it's been good to get out there. It's been nice."

Skiing on only man-made snow before, the Lumberjacks have had a wild season filled with schedule changes, bus trips to places with snow and postponements. Despite the poor winter weather for skiing, CEC has competed in the majority of the scheduled races, and will head to Pincushion Trail in Grand Marais for the Lake Superior Conference Meet on

Friday, Feb. 3.

Martin noted Wednesday that current top skiers on the girls end include Esko's Molly Meysembourg and Korbyn Danielson, along with Cloquet's Alyssa Michaelson and Carlton's Erika Fox. For the boys, Martin highlighted Carlton's Duncan Fox, Esko's Matt Rengo and Cloquet cross country skiers Nolan Ripp and Josh Carlson.

Like alpine skiing, the Section 7 and state competitions will be at Giants Ridge in Biwabik on Feb. 9 and Feb. 16.