Cloquet's annual citywide ski meet turned into a festival of spring on Sunday, March 11, as jumpers waterskied and cross country skiers raced shirtless on trails that were still snow covered but melting fast.
As the day wore on, conditions in the Joe Nowak Ski Area at Pine Valley deteriorated rapidly. That was just fine with the kids from the Cloquet Ski Club. Instead of going off the 10- and 20-meter jumps, they created their own mini-jump at the base of the hill - right in front of a giant puddle.
Ten-year-old Woody Waugh (right) was one of several jumpers who managed some fine water skiing in their alpine skis, along with some spectacular crashes in the 10 inches of freezing cold water and snow.
And how was the water skiing?
"Fun, good, wet," was all a soaking wet Waugh had to say a few minutes later.
While Waugh was waterskiing, high-school Nordic skiers Nolan Ripp, 15, Jace Anderson, 16, and Samuel Hayden, 15, skied the men's 5K wearing only their numbers up top, while others skied in T-shirts and shorts as well as more traditional garb.
Ken Ripp, who organized Sunday's meet with Pat Marciniak and other Cloquet Ski Club members, said the turnout of approximately 50 competitors wasn't bad, considering the weather.
"We didn't get as many as we usually do from Duluth, but there were some new faces, that's good," Ripp said.
There were also some old faces. Joe Nowak, who was a driving force behind the creation of the ski jumps at Pine Valley and long-time Cloquet High School jumping coach, was in attendance, along with Rick Nelson, who was the Minnesota state champion ski jumper in 1966 and 1967.
More in this week's Pine Journal