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Northwoods Spotlight - Snowmobile Derby recap Jan 22Submitted: 01/23/2014
Story By Marisa Silvas

Northwoods Spotlight - Snowmobile Derby recap Jan 22
EAGLE RIVER - Tomahawk's Nick Van Strydonk won the world championship in 2012. He knows
competing at Eagle River Derby Track is special.

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

Lance Rutledge is an amatuer sno cross racer from Rhinelander.

"The adrenaline rush you get, especially in that last lap, it all comes into
play," Rutledge adds.


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

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 explains. "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 said. "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," derby
track marketing manager Richard Decker points out. "It's a lot of hard work but
believe me, everything is worth it. We love it."


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Allan Bell wrote his "Birch Bark Nature Notes" columns in the Tomahawk Leader for more than three decades.

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Monday, work started to add some new fun to the park. Rhinelander Parks Department workers started tearing down the old slide. It's been blocked off since last fall and would cost up to $10,000 to fix the slide and structure itself.

Parks Director Jeremy Biolo reached out to a local service group to see if they could help.

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Streets Superintendent Tony Gilman has been named "Weed Commissioner" for the fourth year.  That means he'll be on the lookout and taking calls for lawns with grass 12 inches or longer.  Gilman says he gets dozens of calls from fed-up people each year.

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Initial estimates from the Barron County Sheriff's Office put the damage from last week's tornado at $10 million.

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