Cloquet grad makes world stage


January 27, 2023

Contributed by Dolcie Tanguay

Cloquet's Aidan Ripp, left, celebrates a race finish with Niklas Malcinski, who was also representing the USA in the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, New York, Jan. 12-22. Ripp and Henry Johnstone earned a fourth-place team finish at the Games, and Ripp finished in 12th place in the individual Nordic combined competition.

During this month's 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, New York, Nordic combined competitor Aidan Ripp wore his Cloquet Ski Club hat for every competition.

The Cloquet grad was one of six Americans competing in the Nordic combined event, which combines ski jumping and Nordic (or cross country) skiing.

He estimated there were more than 200 Americans at the University Games, competing in a wide variety of winter sports, including downhill and cross country skiing, biathlon, curling, figure skating, ice hockey, freestyle skiing, speed skating, ski jumping, snowboarding and his own specialty.

According to the website, the World University Games is an 11-day international festival and competition that combines high-level sport with educational and cultural events in Lake Placid and nearby towns. It is the largest international winter multisport event for student-athletes and drew more than 2,500 participants from over 50 countries from Jan. 12-22.

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Ripp has come a long way since he was a light-as-air youngster flying off the ski jumps at Cloquet's Pine Valley, one of only four places in the state with functioning ski jumps.

Now a junior attending at Paul Smith's College in upstate New York State, Ripp competes for the school in Nordic combined and cross country skiing. He and his teammates train for jumping at nearby Lake Placid. Ripp was one of two Nordic combined athletes from Paul Smith at the competition.

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The Cloquet Ski Club alum competed as an individual at the World University Games on two days in Nordic combined, with his best finish second place in the 10K race on Sunday, Jan. 15. For both individual and team competitions, Ripp had the second fastest ski times but his jumping landed him in the middle of the pack of 19 competitors, at 12th place overall.

Ripp said he hadn't been jumping well for a few weeks, but he also thought his home court advantage might make a difference.

"Cross country felt pretty strong, but jumping is strange," Ripp said in a phone interview this week. "You can be jumping really well and something might happen and it's hard to get back. It's really easy to lose it. Other times you can have a good jump out of nowhere."

Ripp also competed for the USA in the team sprints competition: he and teammate Henry Johnstone finished just off the podium in fourth place.

Ripp said all the athletes had to have some kind of college connection, even if it was just taking a three-credit-hour class last year. Ripp is a full-time student at Paul Smith, majoring in biology. This competition was less stressful, Ripp said, in part because it wasn't a qualifier for any other events.

"This was exciting because I felt like I had more of a shot at a podium spot. It wasn't a very deep field and the pressure was less because it didn't really matter if you did well," he said. "But it would have been cool to get on the podium."

Contributed by Dolcie Tanguay

Cloquet's Aidan Ripp races down the inrun during the ski jumping portion of the Nordic combined event at the 2023 FISU World University Games.

With a team fourth-place finish, they just missed it.

Still, Ripp had a hometown support team, to go with his hometown hat. His mom and dad, Carolyn and Ken Ripp, drove out for the event, bringing the family's new puppy along.

"That was pretty great," Aidan said.

The next chance to see Ripp compete via livestream will likely come during the national college competition in mid-March, so stay posted.


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