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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MERRILL - Merrill residents might have heard a lot of music in town today.

Merrill High School hosted the Merrill Marching Invitational. Three high school marching bands took over the football field at Merrill High School Sunday.

Antigo, D.C. Everest, and Merrill high schools all showcased their musical creativity.

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MILWAUKEE - A published report says unauthorized improvements have been made to a footpath on state land that a donor to Gov. Scott Walker has been trying to buy.

A spokesman for business executive Elizabeth Uihlein acknowledged that workers at her adjoining property may have cleaned up the trail slightly.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1Z18WU8 ) reports those who have seen the trail say the improvements are significant.

Uihlein is seeking to buy 1.75 acres along Rest Lake, where the footpath is located. But a tentative deal with the Department of Natural Resources was put on hold after critics raised questions.

A DNR spokesman says the agency inspected the site on Thursday and found an "established trail." He declined to say whether the department had talked to Uihlein or her representatives.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

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RHINELANDER - Harvest Hoedown started Saturday at noon at the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander.

The event featured a hay maze, horse-drawn carriage rides, food, and live music all afternoon.

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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

Volunteers at Pointe Basse recreated a historical camp that portrayed the lives of people from the 1700s and early 1800s.

Volunteers from all across the U.S. had a piece of history to share.

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MERRILL - Firefighters need to be prepared to rescue people from more than just fires.

People can get trapped in tree stands, water, or a tight spot. 

Local fire departments respond to those emergencies.

Merrill's first Citizen's Fire Academy learned about these specialized rescues Thursday night.

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ACROSS WISCONSIN - Abbotsford 62, Thorp 6

Algoma 24, Sturgeon Bay 8

Almond-Bancroft 61, Tigerton/Marion 6

Amherst 56, Manawa 6

Antigo 42, Lakeland 28

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