Local ski jumpers find snow (and success) in Alaska


March 8, 2024


Simon Langer competes in Nordic combined at the Junior Nationals championships last week in Anchorage, Alaska

Three Cloquet skiers took Leap Day to a whole new level, hurling themselves off a 64-meter ski jump in Anchorage, Alaska Thursday, Feb. 29 as part of the 2024 ski jumping and Nordic combined Junior Nationals championships.

Joel Linden and brothers Isaiah and Simon Langer competed in Nordic combined, a discipline which combines ski jumping and Nordic skiing. All three learned the sport through the Cloquet Ski Club, which makes its home at Pine Valley Recreation Area. Having ski jumps and such an active cross country ski community and high school team is an advantage, explained Nathan Langer, jumping coach and dad to Simon and Isaiah.

"It is such a privilege that our small club can send kids to Junior Nationals. We have been sending two to three kids each year to Junior Nationals for many years," said Ken Ripp, Cloquet Ski Club president and coach.

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Strong winds meant the second round of ski jumping ended early, but all three boys acquitted themselves well at the competition, held at the Karl Eid Ski Jumping Complex and Kincaid Park in Anchorage.

Each jumper is scored for form and style, along with distance. All three competed in the U16 age group.

The youngest of the three, seventh-grader Simon, age 12, placed highest in the jumping portion of the individual competition, taking 15th place, jumping 55 meters. With style points added, his total score was 83.9. High school freshman Isaiah Langer, 14, placed 20th with a jump of 50 meters and a total score of 68.9. Eighth-grader Linden, 14, tied for 21st place with a total score of 68 points (and a jump of 49 meters).

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The cross country (Nordic) ski race follows the ski jumping, with start times determined by jumping placement.

The Cloquet competitors saw their finish times - and final ranking - shift during the 5K cross country ski race. Isaiah Langer passed two skiers on his way to a time of 15:37.3 for the 5K, ending the Nordic combined competition in 10th place overall. Joel Linden took 14th, skiing a 17:35.8. Simon Langer placed 16th overall, finishing the race in a time of 19:39.

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It was a very hilly and difficult ski course, Nathan Langer shared, reporting that Isaiah said it was the hardest course he has ever raced on. At times the wind was so strong that smaller athletes (like Simon) had to double pole downhill because the wind stopped their progress. After finishing the race, Simon said it was the hardest thing he has ever done, his dad said.

But they held their own.

"All three boys showed that they belong competing at the national level of both ski jumping and Nordic combined," Nathan Langer said.

It was Isaiah's second time competing at Junior Nationals, which were held in Coleraine, Minnesota, last year. Simon and Joel skied as "fore jumpers" last year, testing the hill first, but not competing. Simon wasn't old enough to qualify until this year.

All three jumpers practiced at Coleraine this year, where they could make snow and have a 70-meter jump. (Cloquet's largest jump is 40 meters.) They also skied and jumped with some of the Coleraine skiers at the junior nationals during the team competitions on Friday and Saturday, which were divided by region. Cloquet is in the Central Region.

Coleraine coach Sue Kavanaugh praised Linden for recording some of the highest style points. He finished eighth in the team jump, while the Langer boys took ninth place. Linden also made it to the final four and finished second in the elimination jump competition.

In the team cross country race, Linden and Isaiah Langer placed fifth. Simon Langer and Coleraine's Evan Giese took eighth.


From left, Simon Langer, Joel Linden and Isaiah Langer take a break from competition at the Junior Nationals championships last week in Anchorage, Alaska.

"The Northland has been so supportive of these athletes," Nathan Langer said after their return from Alaska. "They knew they had a lot of people at home cheering them on."


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