RHINELANDER - If you can believe it, the Olympic games are almost here. Competition begins Thursday. It's also the perfect time to remind everyone that a former Olympian calls Rhinelander home.
Putting on skis is second nature for Chris Cook. The Rhinelander native started racing when he was just 3 years old. In high school, he became focused on seeing where the journey could take him.
"I really wanted to do everything to pursue professional athletics," Cook explained. "I went to Northern Michigan University and wanted to win a national title there - which I did. It put me on the U.S. developmental team, the U.S. ski team. It was step by step."
Cook continued to heat up the trails becoming the US Nationals Sprint Champ at the age of 25. His talent and drive landed him at the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino.
"The opening ceremonies, walking in with the entire team was an eye-opening moment," Cook adds. "That was a dream-realized moment."
Having been to the games himself, Chris has a lot of insight into how this years athletes are preparing, both physically and mentally.
"I'm good friends with Andy Newell," Cook said. "This is his third games. He's focused on a medal. For the rookie, it's a little bit different. (It's) your first games. It's trying not to let the media and all of the hoopla of the games affect you."
Cook retired from competition two years ago. He has mixed feelings about being a spectator this time around.
"I miss the racing," Cook said. "I don't miss the training, but I miss the racing. But I do enjoy watching the racing and supporting the guys who are there."
MERRILL - When you think of movies you probably think of Hollywood, but one man from Northcentral Wisconsin is bringing his feature film to the local screen.
Wausau’s Jarrod Crooks not only makes movies, but he also stars in them.
His latest film, "Dispatched" is based off the Elvis Presley movie, “Girl Happy,” says filmmaker Jarrod Crooks. “My character Jake is sent to go watch my bosses daughter while she’s on vacation with a friend. Then an old enemy is kind of after him while he’s on vacation, so some things happen.”
Crooks made, "Dispatched" on a $5,000 budget and it’s full of romance, action, and comedy.
“My buddy would joke with me, ‘why don’t you just pick one genre man and then just go with it'," says Crooks. "I’m like because I want to make this movie how I want to make It'." "I actually like romantic comedies, I think they’re kind of fun, and I think they’re cute. I like action films because I’m a guy, and I like comedy because Jim Carey is great.”
Crooks is only 28 and has already made 4 feature films. His passion started when he was 12 years old.
“I went over to my friend’s house and he had a video camera. I was like oh we should make a movie, and at that time I was really into, “Wishbone,” says Crooks.
“We’d always remake our own literature pieces. Then I saw my first Jackie Chan movie and I’m like, alright it’s settled we’re doing action films from now on," says Crooks. “From then on it was just a love affair with the filmmaking.”
His latest film will be shown at the Cosmo Theatre in Merrill on Saturday at 5pm.
“The fact that I’m bringing it to central Wisconsin is great because this is where I grew up," says Crooks. "All my family and friends get to see it, so I’m very excited about that and you get to see yourself on the big screen what’s better than that.”
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