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."
RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Police Department identified the man who died after a house fire on Friday night as 35-year-old Jeffery J. Becker.
Rhinelander Fire Chief Terry Williams told Newswatch 12 on Monday afternoon that an autopsy indicates Becker died from smoke inhalation, but the autopsy results and further investigation is now in the hands of the state Department of Criminal Investigations.
Crews responded to the house at 320 Rose Street, near Hodag Park, around 7:30 p.m. Friday. Firefighters went inside the house soon after they arrived and found Becker unresponsive on the floor. Firefighters and paramedics tried to revive Becker, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
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