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Northwoods Spotlight: Eagle River Pond Hockey Submitted: 02/13/2013
Story By Joe Dufek

Northwoods Spotlight: Eagle River Pond Hockey
EAGLE RIVER - The population of Eagle River is just shy of 1400. But last weekend, over 2400 pond hockey players, and fans were in town. The annual Pond Hockey National Championships were a Big hit on a little lake.

The first year of the Pond Hockey Championships featured 42 teams - that was 8 years ago. This year it was 346 teams, 18 divisions, playing 612 games.

Add to that 28 rinks, and 3 days of action. The result - another successful weekend for everyone involved.


"I'm here playing with my nephew and also seeing former high school opponents," says Tom Kuklinski - a member "We're with Mugsy" out of Eagle River.

Scott Aldrich is the Manager of adult hockey for USA Hockey. "To see hockey played in its purest form, its great to see," adds Aldrich.

With temps at times reaching near 30s a few weak spots formed on the ice. But extra work by the Eagle River Fire Department helped keep ice conditions safe and ready for play.

"Every night we have to flood the rinks to fill in the cracks caused by playing games," says Pat Weber - Cheif of the Eagle River Fire Department. He also had a team called "Frozen Seven" which has played every year since the tourney began.

Players from 27 States as well as Canada played on Dollar Lake. It was a chance to relive childhood memories.

Visting fans and Northwoods folks all gathered to see how this special weekend has grown.

The Chamber of Commerece estimates lodging for the players brought in over $1-million dollars into the Eagle River economy.


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Erik Quamme is a novice wake surfer, and this is just the third time he's skimmed the waves in Minocqua.

He gotten started thanks to SurfSCONSIN's Mike Scandin and Chad Baker.

"Just appreciate the power the wave has. They don't have to work that hard. It is just that balanced motion," said Scandin.

Nearly every day for the last two summers, Chad drives the boat while Mike coaches.

The boat goes at a low speed to create the perfect wave and that keeps your body from taking a beating.

"Everybody is getting older. Everyone feels those aches and pains. You just don't have those major wipeouts," said Baker.

The key to wake surfing is the boat does all the work.

Friends Erik Quamme and Chad Scott are two of SurfSCONSIN's newest surfers.

They're still pretty new at riding, but both say it's the coaching that's helped them learn fast.

"Mike is sitting there telling you to move your left foot forward or scrunch your toes forward," said Quamme.

"If Erik and I had a boat and a couple of boards-- it could take days to figure out foot placement and rope length," said Scott.

You can catch 12-year-surfer Mark Mapes with Mike and Chad almost every day, sometimes showing off a trick or two.

For him, it's the socialness of wave surfing that makes the sport special.

"You can talk to each other, the boat is moving slow you can hear. You can talk to the surfer back there," said Mapes.

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WESTON - The Habitat for Humanity of Wausau celebrated a big milestone on Saturday. The organization held the grand opening for its new Recycled Building Materials facility.

The new building is a place where people can go to buy new and used building materials. For the grand opening, there was face painting for kids, free hot dogs, and even a visit from Woody Woodchuck.

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THREE LAKES - One teenager decided to spend a day giving back to the Three Lakes community 18-year-old Maxwell Blanchard lives in L.A but always makes it back to Three Lakes during the summer. 

Blanchard learned how to water ski and wakeboard in Three Lakes at five years old. 

On Sunday he spent the day giving free water skiing and wakeboarding lessons.

"[To] get someone new out there to ski or at least get them attempting. It's always fun when you get the kids who are a little nervous out there and a little shaky, then they get out there and they love it," said Blanchard. 

Blanchard said every year the water sports community chooses a day to give back and participate in "International Pass the Handle Day."

 Kylee Swendson decided to help Blanchard this year with the lessons. 

"It's great for everybody to get a chance to learn especially people who don't get the opportunity every day," said Swendson. 

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The Northwoods Adventure Quest Program brings students from China and America together.

 Last year travel rules stopped the program from happening, but this year the students and organizers are more driven than ever to keep their mission going. 

"You get to form relationships with people from around the world," said 10- year- old Chase Neubauer. 

This is Neubauer's first time joining the two week Adventure Quest Program. 

The goal of the program is to do more than just keep kids busy during the summer. 

"[It] promotes connections with Wisconsin especially the Northern part [of Wisconsin with] all of China," said WISP Executive Director Xiaodong Kuang.

Kuang is one the organizers of the quest program. He couldn't think of a better way of promoting his goal than starting with young students. 

"[So that] the young generation, who will be the future leaders of the world, [can] appreciate cultures and know more about each other," said Kuang. 

This is Power Liu's first time coming to America with the program. 

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The fence is scheduled to be put up in about three weeks so Werres wanted to get the area cleaned up as soon as possible.

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MANITOWISH WATERS - "When you have something like this everybody turns a little bit Irish," said Irish Fest volunteer Ron Troller.

Ye Olde Shillelagh in Manitowish Waters hosted its Second Annual Irish Festival this weekend. The big draw for the volunteers and attendees is the music.

"Who doesn't like professional Irish music," said Troller.

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