The name Mike Marciniak has become synonymous with cross-country skiing in Cloquet as well as the Central Division of the United States Ski Association. Mike, a 1956 graduate of Cloquet High School, has been a competitor, a coach, or a technical delegate in cross-country ski racing for nearly the past fifty years. Mike’s senior year in high school was highlighted by the cross-country team’s third place finish in the State Meet as well as his third place individual placing. In 1957 and ‘58 Mike was the MIAC champion while attending UMD. In 1958 he was named to the F.I.S. training squad under the direction of legendary coach Sven Wick. Mike skied in the North American Championships in 1959 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He continued racing and was a member of the CUSSA Masters Team in ‘87 and ‘89. He was the Red Earth Loppet Masters V -27km Champion in 1989. His 1994 Master’s V relay team placed second in the U.S. Master’s Relay at Giant’s Ridge.
Mike officially joined Joe Nowak and took over the Cloquet cross-country program in the winter of 1964. His cross-country teams played a major role in the eleven State Championships won by Cloquet between 1965 and 1976. He coached three state champions. Dave Quinn won in 1966. Patrice Jankowski won three in a row between 1976 and 1978. Barb Unzen was state champion in 1981. Dave went on to win an American Birkebeiner, and Patrice was a member of the 1992 Olympic Team. Mike also coached Cloquet’s 1984 Olympian Mike Randall.
Mike has also been a major influence on cross-country skiing in the Central Division of the United States Ski Association. He was the junior national coach from 1965 until 1993. One of his highlights from his tenure as junior coach was the second place finish of the Older Junior Boys relay in 1981 in Steamboat Springs. That team included his son Kevin. Kevin went on to attain NCSA All-American status at Northern Michigan. In 1982 the Older Junior Boys won the relay in Lake Placid and the Junior II boys were second. The junior boys team included Mike’s youngest son, Patrick. Mike spent fifteen of those years as Junior Chairman of the CUSSA cross-country division. He was awarded with three Central Division Presidential Awards for his work in the division. Mike hosted nearly twenty-five tryout or Central Division Championship races at Cloquet’s Pine Valley. He was a U.S. Ski Team Regional Coach in 1968-1969. In 1985 he helped coach the U.S. Polar Cup Team in the Scandinavian race series; athletes from the Eastern and Central Divisions were involved.
As Mike’s coaching and competitive years began to wind down, he began to focus on his work as a technical delegate. In 1980 he was part of the course inspection crew at the Lake Placid Olympics. In 1985 he went on to become the Chief of Stadium at the World Cup Race at Giant’s Ridge. Mike was the TD at the American Airlines Super Series in 1991 in Boyne Mountain, Michigan, and in 1992 at Giant’s Ridge. He was the TD to the 1995 World Jr. Team trials and the F.I.S World University Games. In 1996 he was the TD at the National Masters Championships in Vermont and in 1998 the Mora Vasaloppet. Since then he has continued to bring his expertise and experience to races throughout the Midwest.
Since the early 1990’s Mike has been a member of Cloquet’s Park Board. He represents the interests of Pine Valley on that board. One accomplishment that Mike along with Cloquet Ski Club members fulfilled in 1998-’99 was the lighting of 2.5 km of the Pine Valley trail system. He has worked to ensure that Cloquet has state of the art grooming equipment.
Mike was employed by Minnesota Power as a Customer Service Representative from 1962 until his retirement in 1995. Along with his wife, Faye, they raised three sons in Cloquet. Mike has given unselfishly to cross-country skiing in the Cloquet area. He will still help our high school team whenever he is needed. When skiing was set to be cut by the Cloquet School District, he gave his salary back to keep the program alive. Those of us who skied under Mike can attest to the miles Mike put on his station wagons hauling us to meets around the Central Division. Mike is very deserving of his 1986 induction into the Ski Coaches’ Hall of Fame.
Written by Brent Smith, Cloquet-Esko-Carlton Nordic Ski Coach 2002
OBITUARY for MICHAEL MARCINIAK 1937-2007
Michael J. Marciniak, 70, a life long resident of Cloquet, Minn. passed away Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2007 following a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. He was born in Cloquet on Jan. 15, 1937 to Michael T. and Eleanore (Dressler) Marciniak. Mike graduated from Cloquet High School in 1956 and while attending high school, he starred on the school's cross-country ski, track and football teams. After high school he attended the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1957 and 1958, where he won a pair of MIAC titles. During the 1958 season, he was named to the F.I.S. training squad. In 1959 he skied in the North American Championships. He was chosen as an alternate for the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif. On Sept. 30, 1961 Mike married Kathleen (Faye) Blair. In 1964 he started his true passion, coaching the Cloquet's cross-country teams. During an 11 year period from 1965 to 1976 his cross-country teams played a major role in 11 State titles won by Cloquet. He also had a major influence on cross-country skiing in the Central Division of the USSA; coaching the junior national and junior Olympic teams from 1965 to 1993. During his tenure as the junior coach, he received three Central Division Presidential awards for excellence. In 1986 he was inducted into the Ski Coaches' Hall of Fame. Starting in the early 1990's, Mike served on Cloquet's Park Board until early this year. He was also a member of the Kiwanis, Jaycees, and the Cloquet Ski Club. He served in the Air National Guard. He was employed at Minnesota Power from 1962 until his retirement in 1995. Mike's passions extended beyond his coaching, his love for the outdoors and family would play a major role in his life. Sports author, Ross Bernstein, wrote in his book titled, Legends & Legacies: Celebrating a Century of Minnesota Coaches, 'A Nordic legend, Mike Marciniak is among the best of the best, and someone who truly gave back to the sport he loved.' Mike was preceded in death by his father, Michael; and mother, Eleanore. He is survived by his wife, Faye; sons, Kevin (Beth) of Brooklyn Park, Minn., Todd (Beth) of Ham Lake, Minn. and Patrick (Kimberly) of Cloquet, Minn.; grandchildren, Kirsten, Amber, Arianna, Maxwell and Samuel Marciniak; brothers, James (Shirley) of West Lafayette, Ind. and Tommy (Mary) of Cloquet, Minn.; sisters, Kathlyn Marciniak of Cloquet, Minn. and Judy (Bill) Flynn of Duluth. VISITATION:5-7 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007 in Nelson Funeral Care in Cloquet, Minn. with a wake service at 6:30 p.m. Funeral Mass will be 11 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 20, 2007 in Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Cloquet, with one hour prior visitation. Interment services will be at New Calvary Cemetery in Cloquet. A time of fellowship and luncheon will follow in the church social hall. The family has selected Nelson Funeral Care, 1004 Cloquet Ave., Cloquet, MN 218-879-3225 to assist them with arrangements. See their online guest book at www.legacy.com Published in the Duluth News Tribune on 8/17/2007.