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Northwoods Spotlight - Former Olympic skier Chris CookSubmitted: 02/05/2014
Story By Marisa Silvas


RHINELANDER - If you can believe it, the Olympic games are almost here. Competition begins
Thursday. It's also the perfect time to remind everyone that a former Olympian
calls Rhinelander home.

Putting on skis is second nature for Chris Cook. The Rhinelander native started
racing when he was just 3 years old. In high school, he became focused on
seeing where the journey could take him.

"I really wanted to do everything to pursue professional athletics," Cook
explained. "I went to Northern Michigan University and wanted to win a national
title there - which I did. It put me on the U.S. developmental team, the U.S.
ski team. It was step by step."


Cook continued to heat up the trails becoming the US Nationals Sprint Champ at
the age of 25. His talent and drive landed him at the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino.

"The opening ceremonies, walking in with the entire team was an eye-opening
moment," Cook adds. "That was a dream-realized moment."

Having been to the games himself, Chris has a lot of insight into how this years
athletes are preparing, both physically and mentally.

"I'm good friends with Andy Newell," Cook said. "This is his third games. He's
focused on a medal. For the rookie, it's a little bit different. (It's) your
first games. It's trying not to let the media and all of the hoopla of the
games affect you."

Cook retired from competition two years ago. He has mixed feelings about being a
spectator this time around.

"I miss the racing," Cook said. "I don't miss the training, but I miss the
racing. But I do enjoy watching the racing and supporting the guys who are there."


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 IN OTHER NEWS

VILAS COUNTY - A 77-year-old man died in a crash near Boulder Junction late Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol, it happened around 3:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 51 and County Highway H.

Investigators think a van went through an intersection and hit a semi truck.

"There was injury," said Boulder Junction Fire Chief Matthew Reuss. "The two passengers in the van had to be extricated. One was taken to Howard Young Medical Center for further care. The driver of the semi was uninjured and the second passenger in the van was pronounced dead at the scene."

According to Wisconsin State Patrol, the driver of the van is a 68-year-old woman from Colby. Crews later took her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield for non-life threatening injuries. Her passenger, a 77-year-old male from Colby, died in the crash. They were both wearing seatbelts. 

The driver of the semi is 63 years old and from South Range. 

Traffic was rerouted through Boulder Junction for several hours and was reopened shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Several units responded to the scene.

"Because we had multiple patients, we dispatched multiple ambulance units," Reuss said. "We called in resources from Arbor Vitae for traffic control and we called Manitowish Waters for help in extrication and ambulance service as well as Medic 5 out of Howard Young."

State Patrol and the Vilas County Sheriff's Office will investigate the crash.

Police will not release the names until the families are notified. 

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STEVENS POINT - A baby in Portage County ended up in the hospital for seizures twice in three days last fall.  Police think the mother's live-in boyfriend may have shaken that baby.

Matthew Huettl, 25, pleaded not guilty to felony charges for first-degree reckless injury and child abuse in Portage County Court on Tuesday.

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MERRILL - Republicans planned to go after the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, quickly after taking control of Congress and the White House. Less than a month into session and the House of Representatives started picking apart the healthcare law. Many Americans are wondering what will happen to Obamacare. Congressman Sean Duffy held a town hall at Les & Jim's Lincoln Lanes in Merrill this afternoon to answer the public's questions. 

According to Duffy (R-Weston), the Affordable Care Act will be repealed because it is effective for 20 million people, but not for all of America. 

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EAGLE RIVER - The Vilas County Jail hopes to add two new corrections officers in 2017. But the jail needs more applicants by Friday.

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ANTIGO - Police started to look into former Langlade County Human Resources Director R.J. Weitz for misconduct before his suicide late last month.

We didn't know exactly why Weitz was being investigated. But documents released Tuesday by the Langlade County Sheriff's Office offer some explanation.

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RHINELANDER - The streets of downtown Rhinelander changed quite a bit over the last year. The construction will pick up again this spring, but there is a possibility for some last-minute changes to those construction plans.

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RHINELANDER - When police arrested Alexander Durand for stealing a car, they found he had been stealing mail as well.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office arrested Durand, 21, Saturday for driving a car stolen from a house near Rhinelander. During that investigation, officers found a lot of other people's mail on Durand's property.

The mail was from all over Oneida County as well as other counties.  The Sheriff's Office will contact the people whose mail has been found.

Durand is due in court January 23.

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