Cloquet Ski Club

1106 Olympic Drive
Cloquet, MN 55720

Pine Valley Recreation Area was established just over 50 years ago and has been home to countless young athletes who have grown skiing on the slopes and trails. Athletes have achieved notable feats winning local, state, and national ski titles and several of them went on to compete at the Olympics.

Over 50 years ago, legendary skier and coach Joe Nowak lead an effort to construct a first-rate Nordic and ski jumping facility within the city limits of Cloquet, MN. At the time, Nowak was seeking to build a championship high school ski team. However, the team lacked the infrastructure to train and host events. Previously, there was a 20-meter jump located at Gillete’s Hill, which is located just west of the new Applebee’s restaurant. In 1961, Ed Jankowski led Nowak to the perfect hill. The Northwest Paper Company offered the entire 40-acre plot if the city would accept the land as a park. The former Cloquet Park Board led by Al Spafford guided the construction of the ski area, which was later named Pine Valley.

In the fall of 1961, a temporary ski jump was constructed and a network of trails was established allowing the skiers to begin practicing. The first USSA jump meet was held there the following January. One year later, a cinder block chalet was added along with lights for the jumps. That year, the Cloquet Ski Club was officially established with Nowak paying the USSA fees for the 15 members out of his own pocket.

In spring 1963, the local ski group secured steel from Duluth Mesabe and Iron Range Railroad to build a 40-meter ski jump. An accompanying 15-meter jump for beginners was also built adjacent to the larger jump (which has since been replaced with a 20-meter jump). That December, Nowak took the inaugural soar off the new jump. Soon after, a slalom hill with a rope tow was added.

Mike Marciniak joined the Cloquet High School coaching staff in 1963-64, leading the cross country ski team. Marcinak spent many hours supervising the upgrading of the cross country ski trails to support skate skiing and lighting to add night skiing.

In 1971, through a donation by the Noon Kiwanis Club, the chalet was upgraded. Another primary supporter, the Cloquet VFW, served as a sponsor for the annual Cloquet Invitational Jumping and Cross Country Ski meet for more than 40 years.

Since its beginning, the Cloquet Ski Club has made Nordic skiing a staple in the Cloquet community. Today, over 100 young skiers meet several times a week to soar off the jumps and explore the cross-country ski trails. The brutal cold of the northern winters is quickly forgotten as kids strap skis to their feet and find solace in the hills at Pine Valley.

In 2020, the Cloquet Ski Club was selected as the Club of the Year. The Cloquet Ski Club is now the third-largest club in America. On top of that, the club boasts 26 U10 girls, 6 more than the number of boys. The Ripp’s, Waugh’s, and Pat Marciniak have been integral to this growth and they deserve a huge amount of recognition for all their efforts. One of their biggest successes is getting new families involved and beginning to pass the torch as their children age out of the club. Many families are getting involved in both coaching and club leadership, and the club now has a level 100 certified coach in Nathan Langer. So many others like Marc’s, Morris’, Lopez’s, and others are now part of the succession plan and the future of the club is bright with so many great folks involved.

Notable Alumni

Mike Randall

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