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Northwoods Spotlight: Record Vintage crowd; 20K expected for DerbySubmitted: 01/16/2013
Story By Joe Dufek


EAGLE RIVER - Last weekend was the first of two world championship snowmobile races in Eagle River.
Racers took us back in time, hopping on sleds at least a quarter-century old.

The Vintage Snowmobile Championships showed drivers racing on sleds which were made before 1985. Several Northwoods racers took the checkered flag on the final day of action. Including Jeff Stoxen of Rhinelander - winning in the 440 Sport Mod. Racing these old machines is a thrill.

"It's been getting bigger, and bigger," says Jeff Stoxen of Rhinelander - one of the vintage racers. "Everybody is one big family for vintage. Everyone helps everybody out."


A record 7,000 fans watched the Vintage races here at Eagle River Derby Track. Over 20,000 are expected for this weekend's World Championship Derby.

Derby track owner Chuck Decker adds, "the big news is the $60,000 prize to the World Champion this year. Just the one class alone is going to pay out $90,000."

Last year's defending champion Nick Van Strydonk will return to defend his crown. The Tomahawk racer is excited to be racing with the event celebrating it's 50th year.

Several past champions will be honored on Friday night. Time trials get underway Thursday. The World Championship is set for 3pm Sunday afternoon.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - Frederick Place in Rhinelander celebrated a big accomplishment Saturday night.

The homeless shelter has now been open for five years.

While some people thought there were not enough people in need for Frederick Place to be useful, more than 500 people have been helped by Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing.

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EAGLE RIVER - One couple took their love of hockey to a whole new level this weekend.

Kim Riley and Joe Vrtis came to Eagle River to play in the USA Pond Hockey Tournament.

The hockey-loving couple from Chicago thought it would be a great place to do their engagement photos.

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EAGLE RIVER - Teams from all over the country came to Eagle River this weekend for the USA Pond Hockey Tournament.

One team even made their way from California.

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WESTON - The state of Wisconsin no longer bans the possession or purchase of switchblades.

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) signed a bill lifting the decades-long ban on switchblades on Saturday at a 
National Rifle Association and Wisconsin FORCE annual convention in Weston.

Walker said this gives people another option for protection, and it also can help first responders at accidents.

"Say at a crash to take someone out of a harness or seat belt or other things like that," Walker said. "And again, the bottom line is as it is with firearms, the people you are worried about are already possessing these, law abiding citizens should at least have access to that in the state of Wisconsin."

This new law applies only to people who are legally eligible to own a gun.

"The same provisions apply," Walker said. "If someone's prohibited from possessing a firearm, say they're a felon, they are not able to possess a firearm the same way with a knife under the senses. But with a law abiding citizen, it just makes sense that if they're following the law, they're looking to protect themselves and their families, this gives them one more tool to do that as well as first responders."

Under this new bill people can also carry concealed knives of any length without a concealed carry license.

FORCE, or Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs and Educators, is an association chartered by the NRA. 

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MINOCQUA AND LAC DU FLAMBEAU - More than 20 burglaries in the Lakeland area puzzled police and troubled neighbors, but on Friday police told us they think they know who might be responsible.

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PARK FALLS - The Northwoods snowfall this week set up great conditions for cross country skiing in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

"With the recent snow that we got this past week, things are really starting to shape up pretty nice," said Chequamegon-Nicolet forestry technician Brady Howe.

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EAGLE RIVER - Hockey teams from all over the country descended upon Eagle River today.

This morning kicked off the annual Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Pond Hockey Championships on Dollar Lake.

This is the 11th year Eagle River hosted the event.

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