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Annual meet draws jumpers from far and wide

Most winter weeks at Cloquet's Pine Valley, the ski jumps belong to the kids. Some are as young as 4 or 5 years old, flying off the 10-meter jump on alpine skis and then racing for the tow rope to go back up the hill. Others, teenagers like Aidan...

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Nolan Ripp soars off the 40-meter jump at Pine Valley. Lucas Tomhave/news@pinejournal.com
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Most winter weeks at Cloquet’s Pine Valley, the ski jumps belong to the kids. Some are as young as 4 or 5 years old, flying off the 10-meter jump on alpine skis and then racing for the tow rope to go back up the hill. Others, teenagers like Aidan Ripp and Woody Waugh, who have been practicing their ski jumping at Pine Valley for years, have moved on to 70-meter jumps at bigger facilities around the Midwest and the country.

At Saturday’s Cloquet City Ski and Jump Meet, the adults had a turn as well. Patrick Kruegel, 48, came from Minneapolis to jump. He was joined by his “partner in crime,” Joe Berens, who is also in the Minneapolis Ski Club. Eric Hagfors, 32, came from Duluth, where they’ve torn down their jumps.

All three are master ski jumpers.

“It’s a unique hill,” said Kruegel, before proceeding to rattle off all the reasons for the unique nature of the jumps in Cloquet. “It’s small town, local, with lots of tradition. There’s a tow rope. It’s an old style hill, high off the ground. The knoll drops and then there’s a steep landing. It’s a nice facility, with the cross country ski area too.”

About 25 people placed in the jumping meet Saturday, their ages spanning about five decades, each receiving a ribbon with a homemade birchwood medal for their efforts and their entry fee. Another 34 placed in the cross country ski races that started just after 2 p.m.

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Hagfors said it had been 20 years since he jumped at Pine Valley.

“I must have been 12,” he said, noting that he learned how to jump in Minneapolis as a youngster before moving to Duluth. “I remember coming here with the Sobczak boys back in the day.”

The masters weren’t the only ones to travel to Cloquet for what most said would be the final ski jumping meet of the season as winter melts away to spring. Temperatures Saturday were above freezing, but not too much, so conditions were decent for both jumping at noon and Nordic ski races later in the afternoon. Morgan Nichols traveled here with his two sons, Lucas, age 14, and Isak, 9, from Chicago, and not for the first time. The Nichols men were joined by Norge Ski Club jumping coach Oleg Glyvka and his son Maxim.

It was undoubtedly a unique experience for Glyvka, a Ukrainian native who coached the Ukrainian Olympic jumping team in 2002, along with his twin brothers, Vladimir and Andre. Vladimir, he notes, competed in two Olympics, while both twins were World Cup jumpers under their big brother’s coaching. After the 2002 Olympics, Glyvka decided to stay in the U.S. and moved his family here.

It was a full-time job, said the graduate of the Sports Institute in Lvov, Ukraine, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in coaching ski jumping in 1992.

Now it’s all about his son and the other Norge jumpers.

“We like having a long season and giving the kids experience,” Glyvka said in accented English. “They jump in other places, meet other people, new friends. It helps me learn the language and culture too.”

Local jumping royalty came too.

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John Luomala, the first city jumping champ from 1962, said he jumped off a wooden jump at the inaugural city meet. Luomala, who still spends hundreds of hours at the alpine ski hills in Duluth, threatened to pay the $2 fee and defend his title, before cracking a smile.

Olympian Mike Randall helped judge the jumpers with Cloquet’s Pat Marciniak and Nichols; jumpers are scored on the basis of both distance and style points. Ken Ripp recorded the scores.

And Cloquet High School Class of 2015 graduate Nolan Ripp also made the trip home from the Twin Cities, jumping in a gold jump suit for the first time since he was an eighth-grader, while wearing a GoPro camera on his helmet (check out www.pinejournal.com to see videos of Ripp going off both the 20- and 40-meter jumps).

A number of younger kids jumped the 40 on Saturday, including Lucas and Isak Nichols, Cale Prosen of Esko, Charlotte Ripp of Cloquet as well as Clair Poppendeck of Minneapolis.

Nolan’s younger brother, Aidan, didn’t jump Saturday, although he did help with the jumping competition. Now used to higher jumps and longer landings, he was concerned that he might over-jump … not a good thing in the bowl-shaped landing at Pine Valley.

All in all, it was another good meet, said Cloquet Ski Club coach Pat Marciniak, who organized the annual meet with co-coach Ken Ripp and other club volunteers.

“The weather was great,” Marciniak said. “We got a couple of inches of snow the day before that was huge.”

He stressed that the club welcomes people from all over to join them on the jumps and the trails at Pine Valley.
“People from anywhere in the area can come join the club,” he said. “We’d love to have some jumpers come down from Duluth next season.”

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CLOQUET CITY SKI AND JUMP MEET RESULTS

Saturday, March 5, at Pine Valley

SKI RACES

2K Classic Ski - Boys

1. Owen Brenner, 8:12

2. William Bauer, 9:07

3. Eli Jazdzewski, 9:31

2K Classic Ski - Girls

1. Clara Thompson, 9:30

500-meter Children’s

1. Collin Sundquist

2.5K Skate Ski - Boys

1. Cale Prosen, 12:29

2. Isak Nichols 13:53

3. Maxim Glyvka 14:28

4. Emmett Prosen, 16:44

5. Max Sundquist, 17:15

6. Mason Sundquist, 21:22

7. Blake Prosen, 23:11.

2.5K Skate Ski - Girls

1. Charlotte Ripp, 10:02

5.5K Open Ski - Girls 18 and Under

1. Franny Slater, 21:55

2. Hannah Zuck, 23:23

3. Courtney Gregory, 25:45

4. Iyanna Flett, 28:14

5.5K Classic Ski - Men’s

1. Tom Jorgenson, 17:54

2. Ian Gunsolus, 19:42

3. Zach Lafond Hudson, 22:30

4. Tim Gregory, 27:31

5.5K Classic Ski - Women

1. Sophie Lafond Hudson, 26:16

2. Marilyn Strelnieks

3. Ann Gustafson

5.5K Skate Ski - Men’s

1. Phil Rogers, 15:30

2. Lucas Tomhave, 18:03

3. Dylan Winchester, 18:11

4. Darren Winchester, 18:18

5. Gabriel Winchester, 19:20

6. Bruce Shoenberg, 21:27

7. Ben Bauer, 24:27

8. Tom Wagner, 27:08

9. Louis Fuess, 36:23

10. Liam Morriss, 38:44

SKI JUMPING

40-meter Men’s Jumping

1. Patrick Kruegel, Minneapolis

2. Joe Berens, Minneapolis

3. Nolan Ripp, Cloquet (via St. Thomas)

40-meter Boys Jumping

1. tie, Lucas Nichols, Fox River, Illinois

and Isak Nichols, Fox River, Illinoix

3. Cale Prosen, Esko

20-meter Men’s Jumping

1. Nolan Ripp, Cloquet

20-meter Boys Jumping

1. Isak Nichols, Fox River, Illinois

2. Cale Prosen, Esko

3. Casey Flett, Coleraine

4. Tanner Becker, Coleraine

5. Karl Thompson, Cloquet

10-meter Boys Jumping

1. Maxim Glyvka, Fox River, Illinois

2. Isak Nichols, Fox River, Illinois

3. Emmett Prosen, Esko

4. Blake Prosen, Esko

5. Ephrahm Marc, Cloquet (Note: 5 years old)

40-meter Girls Jumping

1. Clair Poppendeck, Minneapolis

2. Charlotte Ripp, Cloquet

20-meter Girls Jumping

1. Iyanna Flett, Coleraine

2. Charlotte Ripp, Cloquet

10-meter Girls Jumping

1. Claire Thompson, Cloquet

2. Sydney Huso, Coleraine

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