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Paul Smith’s gets its first USA Nordic athlete

Aidan Ripp, pictured in a race, will be heading to Paul Smith’s College this fall as part of the school’s education and sport initiative. (Photo courtesy of Scott Nichols)

PAUL SMITHS — USA Nordic and Paul Smith’s College have announced that nordic combined competitor Aidan Ripp of Cloquet, Minnesota, has committed to the school for the fall semester.

Ripp, 19, will simultaneously attend classes and train at the Paul Smith’s College VIC as part of the school’s education and sport initiative.

USA Nordic, based in Park City, Utah, made Paul Smith’s College its East Coast Training Center on October 25. Ripp is now preparing for his fourth season as a member of the USA Nordic Junior National Team.

“I like the idea of being out in the woods for school,” Ripp said. “I feel like it will help me focus on training and school. On top of that, the trail system right outside the door of my dorm was a selling point for me. It’s a dream to be able to step right out the door and put my skis on. Furthermore, being in the Adirondacks makes me feel a bit more at home.

“I’m excited to see what this East Coast Training Center has to offer. I think it will be great to divert so much attention from the west and make the U.S. a little more diverse jumping nation. I have yet to jump on either of the updated jumps in Lake Placid, and am super excited to jump there.”

Ripp competed in two Continental Cup events last season, finishing a career best 38th place in Park City. This qualified him to represent the United States at the Junior World Championships in Oberwiesenthal, Germany. Ripp and his teammates finished 13th in the team event at junior worlds. In addition to Nordic Combined, Ripp was also a successful high school cross-country skier and cross-country runner.

“This East Coast Training Center has always been a dream of mine and I couldn’t be happier to see Aidan become the first USA Nordic athlete to enroll at Paul Smith’s College,” said Bill Demong, who is an Olympic gold and silver medalist, and the USA Nordic Executive Director who grew up in Vermontville.

At PSC, Ripp will be surrounded by an ideal learning and sport environment, benefitting from an extraordinary faculty and administrators as well as the Paul Smith’s College VIC, which features some of the best Nordic skiing in the Adirondacks. The network also boasts a brand new 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) routing that was unveiled last winter in a college ski race.

In addition, Ripp will have access to the nordic trails and modernized ski jumps in Lake Placid. Ripp’s timing is perfect in that the 2023 World University Games in Lake Placid will be held during his PSC career.

“It is so exciting to be welcoming Aidan to Paul Smith’s College as the first Nordic Combined athlete,” said Matt Dougherty, the school’s head nordic coach. “It feels natural to have ski jumpers walking around our campus as part of our community. Aidan is opening an era of Nordic Combined and ski jumping athletes on our campus and it just is the perfect fit.

“I know our campus is ready to support Aidan as he soars off the jumps in Lake Placid and into a new era of sports at Paul Smith’s,” Dougherty continued. “He is going to be an incredible addition not only to our nordic programs, but also to the classroom and the campus community.”

Ripp joins USA Biathlon competitors Lina Farra of Heber City, Utah and Garrett Beckrich of Grand Rapids, Minnestoa at PSC. USA Biathlon forged a similar relationship with the college several months ago.

The trio mark the first athletes to take advantage of the unique education and sport opportunities that are now available. During their winter seasons when all three are traveling, they will be able to maintain their classroom work load with online studies.

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