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NEWS STORIES

Northwoods Spotlight - Eagle River Derby recap Jan 22Submitted: 01/22/2014
Story By Marisa Silvas


EAGLE RIVER - Tomahawk native Nick Van Strydonk won the world championship in 2012. He knows Eagle River is the place to be.

"You can't put it into words," Van Strydonk said. "It's its own special feeling."

Amateur sno cross racer Lance Rutledge of Rhinelander adds, "The adrenaline rush you get, especially in that last lap, it all comes into play."

Speed, adversity and triumph, Derby Weekend had it all - including talented local drivers.


"We do it for the fans," Van Strydonk adds. "We're not out here to make money. We're not out here to prove anything to the guys we race against. We're out here for the fans, we like to put on a show and have fun."

It wasn't just the guys tearing it up. 17 year old Sabrina Blanchet from Quebec set out to become the first female to qualify for the final race, but she had a tough weekend.

"It's disappointing but I'm not mad or upset," Blanchet explained. "The team does a lot of work to give me the best machine they can. We'll come back and try to do it all over again."

Another tradition that dates back to the early years is the Derby Queen. Northland Pines hockey star Jessica Roach won that honor for 2014.

"It's definitely awesome being part of the derby," Roach said. "We're a big hockey town but the Derby is what people look forward to in the winter."

The sleds that race out here aren't like anything you'd see on a trail. They're hand built from the ground up and hits speeds up to 100 miles per hour on the track.

In the end, it was Malcolm Chartier winning the granddaddy of them all... and becoming a back to back champ.

"We did our homework, Chartier explained. "We did it last year and tried to replicate what we did last year and did it again."

"To be able to live in a little town like Eagle River and have a business because there's not that much other tourism it's just very gratifying," Eagle River Derby Track Marketing Manager Richard Decker adds. "It's a lot of hard work but believe me, everything is worth it. We love it."


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EAGLE RIVER - The first-ever ATV & UTV Side by Side World Championship Derby finished up Sunday afternoon. 

Races started on Saturday and continued through the weekend. 

Spectators, racers and event staff all say they were pleased with how the event turned out.

"There's always going to be some nit-nat things that need to be changed, but I can tell you for the first event with everything we had going, it really went well," said Russell Davis, the Derbytrack's VP of Sales and Marketing. "And we're going to have some meetings afterward and obviously change some things, but we've got a lot of compliments, mostly positive, and we're excited to build on next year."

Event organizers estimate about 150 racers of all ages and from all over came to the challenge. Winners got cash prizes. The derby also had night events such as a mud run and a freestyle show.

Next year organizers hope they bring in more people.




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EAGLE RIVER - Wisconsin native Zac Zakowski won the UTV championship derby on Sunday at the AMSOIL Eagle River Derbytrack.

"Once you start doing this you can't stop," said professional UTV and ATV driver Zac Zakowski. "It's like a drug."

Zakowski started racing seriously when he was about 17 years old. The fun hobby quickly turned into a pro sport, a career and a lifestyle. He has been traveling to many different races since then, competing at the professional level.

"You kinda miss out on that stuff and you miss it but at the same time when you're doing this stuff, you don't," Zakowski said.

The sport is hard on the body and the wallet. Two years ago, Zakowski said while driving his ATV he hit a tree and tore his ACL in his knee. He was out for two seasons.

One thing almost all ATV drivers, pro or amateur, can agree on is the sport is truly a family affiar.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my family," Zakowski said. "I mean you can walk the pits and probably almost everybody would say they do it because their family supports it and they do it as a family."

"The lifestyle is tiring because you load up the rig and the trailer to travel thousands of miles to race for an hour or two hours depending on the race," said Zakowski's mother, Linda. "Then you load back up to go home. But once you get to that site on the track you're excited and you just can't wait for things to get going."

Zakowski stopped racing for a while when his mom got diagnosed with breast cancer. Now his mother is in remission and Zakowski participates in races that raise awareness for the disease.

"He paints his whole quad pink and has stickers on it," Linda Zakowski said. 

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WAUSAU - A garage fire in Wausau early this morning will likely cost about $7,200 in damage, according to Wausau Fire Battalion Chief Allan Antolik.

Antolik said it was a 12 by 20 ft detached garage on Pleasant Street.

The Wausau Fire Department responded to the call at 1:30 a.m.

The department says the cause of the fire is undetermined.

No one was hurt. 

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ST. GERMAIN - More than 11,000 people suffer from Multiple Sclerosis in Wisconsin alone.

The owners of Lynn Ann's Campground in St. Germain want to do something about that. They started the Woods and Waters Paddle last year race to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

It's an out and back kayak and stand up paddle board race.

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RHINELANDER - Pawz n' Clawz held their Second Pawzitive Outdoor Games on Saturday.

The event brings dogs and people together for some outdoor fun while helping local non-profits. The Pawzitive Outdoor Games tests a dogs skill in agility, dock diving, and speed.

TLC Training owner Carol Lofquist set up a standard course to test dog skills.

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TOMAHAWK - A Tomahawk man turns his love for logging into woodworking hobby and business.

Wesley Bushor shows and sells woodwork out of his home.

"I don't consider myself an artist. I'm just, I'm a logger who likes to glue sticks together," said Bushor.

Wesley Bushor started working on his wood pieces about 20 years ago.

"Being a logger I come across things all the time that I like in the woods, and I decided I'd start building some basic rustic furniture, and I built a bed. A few weeks later it fell apart, but I was hooked from then on," said Bushor.
 
Bushor's house is his gallery, and you can find his work in every room. The result: a whimsical home that showcases his love for his hobby and trade. He's proud of the work he's done.

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WABENO - A Goodman, Wis., man died from an ATV crash in Wabeno late Saturday morning, according to a Forest County Sheriff's Department press release. 

Forest County Sheriff's officers responded to a report of an ATV crash in Wabeno late Saturday morning. Deputies got to the scene and found just one ATV was involved in the crash.

As a result of the crash, a 23-year-old Goodman, WI, man was pronounced dead at the scene by the Forest County Medical Examiner. There were no other people involved. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is investigating the crash. 

Deputies will not release the name until the family is notified. 

We will provide more updates as they become available. 

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