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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 Oneida County District Attorney's Office confirmed Friday morning that Stephanie Schneider's court appearance Monday has been pushed back.

Police seized 39 dogs from her "It Matters to One" animal rescue in Sugar Camp earlier this month.

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HAYWARD - Organizers of the American Birkebeiner ski race have canceled this year's event in northern Wisconsin.

A snow storm that's dumped more than 10 inches of snow in parts of Wisconsin since Thursday missed the Hayward and Cable area where the annual cross-country race is held. Officials say record high temperatures and rain recently have left the Birkie course unsafe for a race on Saturday.

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MERCER - Kids across northcentral Wisconsin woke up to the two best words they could hear on Friday: snow day.

Districts all over the area cancelled school because of the winter storm.

As far as we can tell, Mercer was the only school in the area to have class today.

Believe it or not, that was good news for most kids in the area.

View the attached video to see more.

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WAUSAU - Earlier this week the Trump administration withdrew protection of federal transgender bathroom rules.

Those rules protect transgender students' right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, even if that is different than their gender assigned at birth.

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TOMAHAWK - Police departments often seize drugs, cash, and vehicles involved in crimes. Tomahawk uses up to $10,0000 a year from those to fight crime. But a new bill could take that money away.

"You're handcuffing your police officers," said Tomahawk Police Chief Al Elvins.

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MERRILL - A school bus crashed after hitting a plow truck Friday morning.  It happened on U.S. Highway 51 near the County Highway K exit near Merrill around 11 a.m.

The State Patrol says the bus tried to pass a plow truck when it hit the plow's wing.  There were children on the bus at the time.  One child was treated for a minor injury, but troopers say everyone will be OK.

The children boarded a second bus to continue on their way.  The wrecked bus needed to be towed from the scene.

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RHINELANDER - Movie fans will see if their favorite movie wins "Best Picture of the Year" at the Academy Awards on Sunday.
There are some big names nominated this year, but there are a few many people in the Northwoods have never seen.
Rouman Cinema is giving people a chance to catch up on movies that will be winning the big awards. 

The studios that produce the movies, decide what theatres get to show them and when.

A lot of it has to do with marketing and the demographics of the area.

Diverse movies like Moonlight and Fences often don't come to the are, until months after they're released.
George Rouman owns Rouman Cinema he says it's up to the studios, not him.

"People may or may not be into this type of thing but for those who are interested in really good, excellence quality performances, it's a great chance to get out here and see some of these movies and see what some of the buzz is about," said Rouman.

Rouman created a three week Oscar special where he'll be showing about 15 Oscar nominated films.

Rouman believes that people in the Northwoods have a right to see and know about movies featuring different cultures and people.

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