Ripp fares well at FISU World University Games

Cloquet High School grad Aidan Ripp was one of six student-athletes competing for Team USA in the Nordic Combined event at the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, New York.

Aidan Ripp during Nordic ski competition
Aidan Ripp competes in a Nordic ski competition.
File / Cloquet Pine Journal

LAKE PLACID N.Y. — The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton Nordic Ski Team was represented on the world stage earlier this month as 2019 grad and current Paul Smith’s College junior Aidan Ripp represented USA Nordic at the FISU World University Games.

The 22-year-old was one of six collegiate athletes to represent Team USA in the Nordic Combined event, which was broken up into three days of competition between two sites at Mount Van Hoevenberg for the cross-country portion, and the Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid for ski jumping.

After spending countless hours training at the same venues given their close proximity to the Paul Smith’s College campus, Ripp said it was exciting to see them get revamped ahead of the event.

“It was really cool to kind of see the venue go from being just a training center then all of a sudden getting blown up and really dolled up into the World University Games,” Ripp said. “It was really cool to see that happen and watch everyone come here to compete.”

Ripp competed individually against a field of 19 skiers where he placed 12th overall. As a two-man team with Henry Johnstone of Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Ripp finished fourth to narrowly miss an appearance on the podium.


While the finish was a bit of a disappointment, the overall experience of taking part in the games more than made up for it.

Cloquet High School graduate Aidan Ripp ski jumps at a competition Jan. 12, 2020, at the Minneapolis Ski Club in Bloomington.

“I was hoping that in the team event we could sneak on the podium, but my teammate and I didn’t have the greatest jumps, but we still skied really well and it was really fun to get to do that,” Ripp said. “I try not to put too much pressure on myself for that event and the whole games itself and just try to enjoy it and soak it in a little bit.”

Watching proudly was Ripp’s coach at Paul Smith’s College, Matt Dougherty, who said his selection and participation in the event was more than fitting given the amount of work he’s put in to get there.

“He’s worked really hard for a number of years and been at the cutting edge for us and for Nordic Combined in the U.S. for collegiate-aged athletes,” Dougherty said. “It was awesome to see him get an opportunity to compete in those games and kind of get rewarded for that.

“He does the work in the spring, summer, fall. He does all that work year after year and that just creates an incredible base that allows him to be consistent and perform at a high level,” he added.

While the actual competition is at the heart of the FISU World University Games, the event also emphasizes educational and cultural events, which Ripp was able to experience through a campus event enjoyed by many of the athletes.

“One of my professors actually put on an open mic night here, and I went to that right after I was done with my last race,” Ripp said. “That was super cool to see everyone come together to do something. It didn’t really matter what nation you were from, it was just interesting to hear people’s stories.”

The experiences of competing and enjoying the camaraderie with fellow athletes was made even sweeter by the presence of his parents, Carolyn and Ken Ripp, who traveled from Cloquet to cheer him on.


“That was really nice. I was really happy that they came out,” Ripp said. “It’s always nice getting to see my mom and my dad. My mom has been really adamant about being at so many of my races and so that means a lot to me. And then my dad also was pretty much my first ski coach and the real person who taught me how to ski.”

Ripp will continue his junior season with Paul Smith’s College as the team looks to repeat as national champions in the 2023 U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard National Championships held March 6-11 in Mammoth Lakes, California.


Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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