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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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MANITOWISH WATERS - Northwoods tourism thrives off of fishing, hunting, and lake life.

Sometimes, people want to take a piece of that Northwoods culture home with them.

You might not recognize this sign in its beginning stages.

Mike Patek makes these handmade signs under the name "Vintage Cabin Signs" in Manitowish Waters.

He controls everything from the cut to the paint.

His signs go all over the country.

They're based off of Northwoods vacation images from the 30s and 40s; think old fishing magazines, travel posters, and postcards.

"Some of them need a certain softness to it. And that can really only be done by hand," says Patek.

The aged, rusty, worn and torn look doesn't take years to get that way, it's hand done.

Mike has silk screened since he was about 14. The process hasn't worn on him yet.

" It's different. You're never doing the exact same thing every day," says Patek.

He is always finding "new" antique images to use for inspiration in his work.

"There's more out there than I will ever be able to do. It's picking the ones you like that's the hardest part."

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - On a busy stretch of Highway 47 near Lac du Flambeau -- where hundreds of wheels spin at 55 miles-per-hour each day -- just one tire drags at a slower pace, pulled by one man: the Tire Man.

"I guess I'm the only one nutty enough to do it, I suppose," Frank Tarantino said with a laugh.

Tarantino lives in Mercer, but trains for marathons in Lac du Flambeau.  He started pulling a tire on a chain a few years ago after reading about it in a fitness magazine.  People often stop to take his picture.

"Little by little you run a little further, a little further," Tarantino said.

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EAGLE RIVER - Doctors thought back surgery and age would hold Jack Godding back.  

Just a few months after being told his limits, he out did them and set higher standards. 

"In general I'm racing against myself," said Goding. 

When you think of competitive athletes, someone like Eagle River's Jack Godding probably isn't the first thing to come to mind. 

That mind set will be your disadvantage if you're ever up against Jack in a race.

"It's a personal goal, personal goal," said Gooding. 

Jack's been competing in races most of his life and started kayaking just six years ago. Not even back surgery could slow him down. 

"First [the doctor] said I wouldn't be able to kayak for almost a year," said Godding.

Just a few months later he was cruising through the waters.

"I'd like to see how many younger ones I can out do ," said Godding. 

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MADISON - A $3 billion tax break bill for Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn Technology Group is poised to pass the Wisconsin Assembly on a bipartisan vote.

Democratic state Rep. Cory Mason said during debate Thursday that he intends to vote for the bill. He is the first Democrat to publicly say he will back the measure that is being championed by Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Republicans.

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NORTHWOODS - Next Monday's solar eclipse will look fascinating, but it can damage your eyes for a lifetime.

It's never safe to look directly at the sun's rays, even though there will be a partial eclipse here in the Northwoods.

Regular sunglasses won't protect you, so if you plan to view the solar eclipse you need special solar eclipse sunglasses.

Those glasses are one size fits all, so it's important to check they are snug on your child's head, too.

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RHINELANDER - Cancer survivors and supporters gathered at Ministry St. Mary's Hospital for the 10th annual Celebration of Life Thursday. The event honors those battling cancer or survivors of cancer and shows people what kinds of services the James Beck Cancer Center offers. 

The center's namesake lost his life to cancer, but now others will be able to benefit from his gift to the hospital.

"With his vision and his dollars we were able to put this cancer center here in Rhinelander so patients don't have to travel to larger cities," said Director of Cancer Services Kimberly Hetland. 

This year's speaker was Mike Regole, a survivor of tonsil cancer. He spoke about his experience at the center, how family and support affected his journey, and how he ran a business while having cancer.

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SAYNER - A needle and thread means more to Pat Andersen than just sewing.

"I started quilting when I was 19 so it's been a passion of mine for a long time," said Pat. 

Quilting gives her a community of ladies in the Northwoods. 

"Sayner needs something like this, it needs something for the women to do," said Pat.
 
After moving to Sayner with her husband Don last spring, the two decided to buy the building that now houses Plum Lake Quilts. Pat needed somewhere to put her long arm machine and that eventually turned into a little retail business. 

"I mean little and then it grew a little bit and it grew a little bit more," said Don Andersen.

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