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Northwoods Spotlight: 50th World Championship Snowmobile DerbySubmitted: 01/23/2013
Story By Newswatch 12 Sports

Northwoods Spotlight: 50th World Championship Snowmobile Derby
EAGLE RIVER - This year's World Championship Snowmobile Derby was seen by more fans than the last 10 years. Over 30,000 made their way to Eagle River to catch the high-speed action.

"I'm here with my son," said Jerry Bolf of Schofield. "We come every year."

"It's great how every thing has come together," adds derby track manager Todd Achterberg. "All the volunteers made me look good."

Governor Walker was at the races on Friday Night. Governor Walker declared the week Snowmobile Safety Week. Past Derby champions and Derby Queens were recognized. Fireworks both in the skies and on the course. The drivers loved being a part of event.


Matt Schulz of Wausau finished third in the World Championship Derby. He says, "Eagle River is a big deal. There is probably 150 people who come up from Wausau to see me."

Among some of the Northwoods drivers competing... Eagle River's Nick Dolezel won the Outlow 600 class. Tomahawk's Nick Van Strydonk fell in his quest for a second straight championship. Howver, Van Strydonk captured the Factory 600 Title. Malcolm Chartier of Marine City, Michigan won this year's World Championships -not to mention $60,000 first prize.


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RHINELANDER - These days, it can feel like physical stores get overshadowed by online shopping. But that's not completely true in Rhinelander.

A new women's clothing boutique opened today in downtown Rhinelander.

Oak Tree Boutique owner and Rhinelander native Amber Bellile remembers a time from her childhood when downtown flourished.

"Over the years once I moved away and would come back I noticed businesses were shutting down," said Bellile. 

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WOODRUFF - Six people died in snowmobile accidents since January 5 in Wisconsin. 

Last year, 16 people died while snowmobiling during the whole season. 

DNR Conservation Warden Supervisor Dave Walz says at this rate, Wisconsin is on track to match that. 

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WOODRUFF - A Northwoods fire department used some of its money gained through fundraising to help other first responders stay safe.

"For lack of a better term it works like a bomb," said Woodruff Assistant Fire Chief Victor Gee. 

The Woodruff Fire Department invested in five "X-tinguish" fire suppression tools.

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WAUSAU - Police arrested a Tomahawk man and Wausau woman Thursday for going on the run with 290 pounds of marijuana, three guns, and two stun guns.

The Marathon County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol helped arrest 32-year-old Joel Helding near Osseo in western Wisconsin.

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ASHLAND COUNTY - A prosecutor has cleared a sheriff's deputy in a 14-year-old boy's death.

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EAGLE RIVER - The World Championship Snowmobile Derby kicked off in Eagle River Friday morning. 

You might think of snowmobile racing as a sport for adults, but people of all ages are competing. Kids as young as four years old came out Friday to ride their tiny sleds through the finish line. 

On Sunday, all eyes will be on the riders lining up for the world snowmobile championship race. But before those riders came into the spotlight they started as kids. 

"My first race was when I was five," said Maverick Woyke. 

At just 12 years old, Woyke has been racing for seven years. 

"We went and watched a race and he had so much fun watching he decided he wanted to start racing," said Maverick's dad Jesse Woyke. 

Maverick traveled to with his dad from Buffalo, Minnesota to race this weekend in Eagle River. He's no stranger to traveling for the sport. 

"We've been Jackson, Wyoming, Winter Park, Colorado, Deadwood, Duluth, Shakopee in Minnesota, we kind of go all over," said Jesse. 

Maverick isn't the only veteran in the field, many of the young riders have been riding almost as soon as they could walk. 

"I've done this race as long as I can remember. Probably since I was four or five," said 11-year-old Tyler Poker. 

It's a tradition to come to Eagle River at this time of year, and for a lot of these kids, it's a family tradition.

"We were eating dinner and Dad asked me if I wanted to come race, and I said yeah, and then this happened," said 11-year-old Reece Bollmann. 

They travel from all over Wisconsin and the Midwest to have fun, but also to compete. 

"I've been to this race four times now and I've won it the last three times so I'm hoping for a fourth," said 14-year-old Kyle Thome. 

It's a unique sport, and it brings something different than football or baseball. 

"[My favorite part about racing is] the jumps because it's so much air and it's just a blast," said Bollmann.
 
But of course the best part?

"Well, getting off of school," said Poker. 

Many of the kids will spend the weekend watching other riders after they finish their races. And the ultimate goal is to be right there on that Sunday championship starting lineā€¦one day. 
 
"If we could get there that'd be awesome," said Thome. 

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RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander District Library recently added a program to make the library more inclusive. 

"[It's] designed specifically for kids on the autism spectrum and those with sensory processing needs, but any kids and families who feel like they just want a little more laid back, hands-on story time it would be appropriate," said children's librarian Katie Kubisiak.

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