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Cloquet Ski Club flags misuse of Pine Valley Park

Sledding and bike tracks under the Pine Valley ski jump show misuse of the hill. Andee Erickson / Pine Journal

The Cloquet Ski Club often arrives to Pine Valley Park, ready to hit the hill for practice, only to find the ski jump landing lined with ski and bike tracks.

Last week, the Cloquet Ski Club asked the public on its Facebook page to keep the ski jumps clean for jumpers after noticing fresh sled and bike snow tracks on the landing.

Patrick Marciniak, a Cloquet Ski Club coach, said misuse of the landing has become more common in recent years, and the rise of people using fat-tire bikes, which help cyclists ride through snow, has contributed.

Marciniak, on behalf of the ski club, asks the public to obey the signs posted around the park and not use the ski jump for other forms of recreation, though he understands it might seem appealing.

"Even though it's in a public park, we pay for insurance on those jumps," Marciniak said. "It's like if someone took a dirt bike to the middle of a baseball field. It's really destructive to our program."

To smooth out the unwanted ruts, Marciniak said the ski club has to walk down the hill sideways on their skis a couple times to pack the snow down, a process that can eat up their practice time.

"We want that landing nice and hard," he said. "We don't want it soft or kids can break through. Then they will tumble and that's not good."

The Cloquet Ski Club includes youth old enough to ski, but too young for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton high school Nordic ski team, as well as jumpers who want to continue the sport into their high school years.

Andee Erickson

Andee Erickson has been a reporter with the Pine Journal since November 2018. She studied journalism and geography at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, while working at the Leader-Telegram newspaper on weekends. She graduated in 2018. Erickson's from southern Minnesota, but started viewing the north as home after interning for the Duluth News Tribune in the summer of 2017.