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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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The homeless shelter has now been open for five years.

While some people thought there were not enough people in need for Frederick Place to be useful, more than 500 people have been helped by Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing.

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EAGLE RIVER - One couple took their love of hockey to a whole new level this weekend.

Kim Riley and Joe Vrtis came to Eagle River to play in the USA Pond Hockey Tournament.

The hockey-loving couple from Chicago thought it would be a great place to do their engagement photos.

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EAGLE RIVER - Teams from all over the country came to Eagle River this weekend for the USA Pond Hockey Tournament.

One team even made their way from California.

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WESTON - The state of Wisconsin no longer bans the possession or purchase of switchblades.

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) signed a bill lifting the decades-long ban on switchblades on Saturday at a 
National Rifle Association and Wisconsin FORCE annual convention in Weston.

Walker said this gives people another option for protection, and it also can help first responders at accidents.

"Say at a crash to take someone out of a harness or seat belt or other things like that," Walker said. "And again, the bottom line is as it is with firearms, the people you are worried about are already possessing these, law abiding citizens should at least have access to that in the state of Wisconsin."

This new law applies only to people who are legally eligible to own a gun.

"The same provisions apply," Walker said. "If someone's prohibited from possessing a firearm, say they're a felon, they are not able to possess a firearm the same way with a knife under the senses. But with a law abiding citizen, it just makes sense that if they're following the law, they're looking to protect themselves and their families, this gives them one more tool to do that as well as first responders."

Under this new bill people can also carry concealed knives of any length without a concealed carry license.

FORCE, or Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs and Educators, is an association chartered by the NRA. 

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MINOCQUA AND LAC DU FLAMBEAU - More than 20 burglaries in the Lakeland area puzzled police and troubled neighbors, but on Friday police told us they think they know who might be responsible.

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PARK FALLS - The Northwoods snowfall this week set up great conditions for cross country skiing in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

"With the recent snow that we got this past week, things are really starting to shape up pretty nice," said Chequamegon-Nicolet forestry technician Brady Howe.

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EAGLE RIVER - Hockey teams from all over the country descended upon Eagle River today.

This morning kicked off the annual Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Pond Hockey Championships on Dollar Lake.

This is the 11th year Eagle River hosted the event.

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