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SPIRIT OF THE NORTH: Learning to LugeSubmitted: 02/19/2014
Story By Hayley Tenpas


NEGAUNEE, MICHIGAN - Imagine a sport where you slide 65 miles per hour down a steep, curved, icy slope.

That sport would be the luge.

There's only one place in America where anyone can simply drive in and learn to luge.

That's Negaunee, Michigan.

"It's definitely a rush going down the ice," said second time slider Wesley McDermott.

"My biggest kick is when they come up and they have this gigantic smile on their face," said coach Jessica Straczeowski.

Lucy Hill in Negaunee, Michigan is a natural luge hill, winding down a steep slope surrounded by snow.

"They look like an ice rink that's tilted 45 degrees," said Straczeowski.

Although similar to the event you'll see in Sochi, Negaunee's track is completely flat.

"Our athletes actually have to sit up to brake, to slow down before corners," said Straczeowski.

The track isn't refrigerated or as fast as the one in Sochi.

"They go like 65 mph instead of 90 mph," said Straczeowski.

But the journey to the top of the hill starts with learning the rules, and once you're geared up, it's go time!

"It's speedy! You just get your adrenaline running and you're on a sled and you're only this high off the ice and the ice makes a sound like, shhhhhhkkkeewwwwww," said Straczeowski.

Many athletes learn about luge in Negaunee and eventually switch to an artificial track like ones in Sochi.

"Our club feeds into the USLA, Lake Placid, so we have sliders from here who are participating in the Olympics artificial track," said Straczeowski.

Luge has been in the Olympics since 1964.

This year the USA picked up the first ever medal in women's luge this year.

"There's so much once you do it, it captures your heart," said Straczeowski.

You can learn to luge with the Upper Peninsula luge club on Saturdays. That's when it's open to the public.


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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/26/2016

- Tonight on Friday Night Blitz we will bring you scores from high school football games all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following games:

River Falls vs. Merrill

Rhinelander vs. Wittenberg-Birnamwood

Oconto vs. Antigo

Phillips vs. Tomahawk

That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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ST. GERMAIN - A brand new rental in St. Germain just opened for business last year. 

"I stumbled across the house and noticed it was vacant," said Roger Bauer.

Three years ago, with grass up to his knees, Roger knew he had a lot of work ahead of him. 

"[It was] a complete gut job, down to the bare studs," said Roger.

Starting work on a house that sat vacant for about 20 years didn't make for the most fun work.

"[It was] was miserable because it was 45 below the first night we started doing demo on the how," said Roger.

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CRANDON - This upcoming school year, Crandon students will learn more about forgiveness and kindness as part of a new initiative.

The Crandon School District called on 2016 Wisconsin Elementary Principal of the Year Melissa Herek to help introduce some of these new practices earlier this week.

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MADISON - The attorney for a Wisconsin inmate featured in the hit Netflix documentary series "Making a Murderer" has filed a motion seeking permission to perform extensive scientific tests on evidence she believes will show he's innocent.

Prosecutors believe Steven Avery killed Teresa Halbach in his family's Manitowoc County salvage yard in 2005. A jury convicted him in 2007 and he was sentenced to life. Avery insists the authorities framed him.

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FITCHBURG - Investigators will try to figure out why a house exploded in southern Wisconsin.

The blast critically injured a man and caused damage to at least two dozen other homes in the neighborhood.

The 57-year-old man has significant injuries as a result of the explosion just before 7:00 p.m. Thursday night in Fitchburg.

Fire fighters say three nearby houses have major structural damage and 23 others have moderate to minor damage.

Debris from the explosion landed about a-half mile from the scene.

While the cause has not yet been determined, witnesses say there was a strong smell of gas.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and state investigators are assisting Fitchburg police.

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MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is promising $4.5 million for job creation and to clean up blighted property in a poor neighborhood on Milwaukee's north side where the recent fatal police shooting of a black man led to violent unrest.

Community leaders say frustration over unemployment and economic disparities underlie the violence and destruction of property that rocked Sherman Park for two nights following the Aug. 13 killing of Sylville Smith.

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VILAS COUNTY - Soon snow will be falling. In fact, preparation for snowmobile season starts as soon as next month.
Cross Country Cruisers Snowmobile Club President David Assmann and his crew are just about ready to hit the trails, starting in September.

"We cut all the brush and everything that's low to the ground," said Assmann.

His crew spends a lot of volunteered time making sure 93 miles of trails near Arbor Vitae are ready and safe to use in the winter.

"We have at least five guys going out, sometimes twice a day. We do trails in the morning and then trails late at night," said Assmann.

Many people who live here use the Northwoods trails, but so do a lot of tourists during the winter months.
"We are able to go out, get these trails groomed so that the tourists that come up can go on our trails, can get to the different businesses in the area, and that helps the economy up here," said Assmann.

With so many miles of trails in Vilas County, one of the best parts is that there is equipment made to maintain those trails, right in St. Germain.

Arrowhead Groomers has been in Vilas County since 1976. The company builds equipment that levels out the trails.

"We manufacture the snow groomer drags primarily for snowmobile trails. Some of them end up getting used on cross country ski trails as well," said Walker Equipment owner Dave Walker.

Another local snowmobile club, Bo-Boen, uses the Arrowhead Groomers on their trails as well.

"I have 17 drivers on my staff that maintain 100 miles of trails here in St. Germain. We're very cognizant of the fact that we have to do a good job to bring those people here so they can spend their money and keep our economy going," said the trail boss for Bo-Boen snowmobile club Jim Wendt.

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