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SPIRIT OF THE NORTH: Learning to LugeSubmitted: 02/19/2014
Story By Hayley Tenpas

SPIRIT OF THE NORTH: Learning to Luge
NEGAUNEE, MICHIGAN - Imagine a sport where you slide 65 miles per hour down a steep, curved, icy slope.

That sport would be the luge.

There's only one place in America where anyone can simply drive in and learn to luge.

That's Negaunee, Michigan.

"It's definitely a rush going down the ice," said second time slider Wesley McDermott.

"My biggest kick is when they come up and they have this gigantic smile on their face," said coach Jessica Straczeowski.

Lucy Hill in Negaunee, Michigan is a natural luge hill, winding down a steep slope surrounded by snow.

"They look like an ice rink that's tilted 45 degrees," said Straczeowski.

Although similar to the event you'll see in Sochi, Negaunee's track is completely flat.

"Our athletes actually have to sit up to brake, to slow down before corners," said Straczeowski.

The track isn't refrigerated or as fast as the one in Sochi.

"They go like 65 mph instead of 90 mph," said Straczeowski.

But the journey to the top of the hill starts with learning the rules, and once you're geared up, it's go time!

"It's speedy! You just get your adrenaline running and you're on a sled and you're only this high off the ice and the ice makes a sound like, shhhhhhkkkeewwwwww," said Straczeowski.

Many athletes learn about luge in Negaunee and eventually switch to an artificial track like ones in Sochi.

"Our club feeds into the USLA, Lake Placid, so we have sliders from here who are participating in the Olympics artificial track," said Straczeowski.

Luge has been in the Olympics since 1964.

This year the USA picked up the first ever medal in women's luge this year.

"There's so much once you do it, it captures your heart," said Straczeowski.

You can learn to luge with the Upper Peninsula luge club on Saturdays. That's when it's open to the public.


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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 07/21/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:


We take you live to Hayward for the Lumberjack world championship and talk with some of the competitors.

We talk with some very young actors that are part of the Campanile kids show in Minocqua.

And we show you the senior citizens version of Wimbledon right here in the Northwoods.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MINOCQUA - The tennis courts at Lakeland Union High School usually get filled with students. 

If you stop by the courts during the summer, you'll see a different demographic taking over. 

A group of senior citizens dressed in all white play with wooden tennis rackets to mimic a Wimbledon, tennis game. 

Jerry Sikora never played tennis until the day he decided to get a group together back in 1990. 

"It means a lot to a lot of us that don't do activities that much," said Sikora. 

Since getting the group together for the first time Sikora has gotten a lot of practice. 

He also added about 20 older adults to the team.

 The age range of the players is from the 50s to mid-80s.

"The older you get the smarter you get," said 70-year- old Ted Dasler. 

The group said they only get better with time. 

Sikora said the snowbirds get more practice during warm winters in the south.

"They have no mercy on us when they come back," said Sikora. 

Things can get intense on the court at times, but the friendships and entertainment brings everyone back to play. 

The players said the most important thing is to always have fun. 


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EAGLE RIVER - A woman went missing last night east of Eagle River, but searchers found her safe early Friday morning.

The Vilas County Sheriff's Department got the report of the missing woman just before 8:00 p.m. Thursday.

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MINOCQUA - "I just find this place so amazing," said actor Noah Venzke, who is in the 7th grade.

The Campanile Summer Children's Theatre Workshop has been running in Minocqua for 10 years now.

"It's a place to meet new friends, and have new experiences, and try new things," said Venzke.

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MILWAUKEE - A judge says a Wisconsin county is likely violating the U.S. Constitution with its requirement that game developers obtain permits for augmented-reality apps like Pokemon Go to be played in parks.

U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller said in a ruling Thursday that Milwaukee County can't enforce the ordinance for now. The ruling came at the request of Irvine, California-based game developer Candy Lab Inc., which is suing to overturn the rule.

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RHINELANDER - This weekend the Hodag BMX track on the west side of Rhinelander hosts the Badger State Games.

More than 100 competitors of all ages and skill levels will compete for the fastest times on the recently updated track.

Competitors race bikes on a quarter mile track with several turns, jumps, embankments and moguls.
Track Operator, Rob Deede says they have competitors from age 5 to their mid-fifties.

"So it's a sport for kids of all ages, we also have it broken down based off of skill level, so from the new beginners, novices all the way through the experts who have achieved many wins in their career." Said Deede.

He says the oldest competitor he's seen was in his mid-eighties.

The track was revamped about a year ago to keep up with the changing style of tracks around the country and the world and to accommodate larger events.

He hopes to bring something positive to the community through the BMX club.

Races will take place this evening and the Championship Qualifying races tomorrow afternoon.

Admission is free. 

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MARATHON COUNTY - Every year, people travel to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. to pay their respects. But for some, the trip to the wall isn't possible.

That's why Wausau Homes in Rothschild brought the American Veterans Traveling Tribute to Marathon County.

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