WAUSAU - Hundreds of Nordic skiers converged on the Nine Mile Forest Recreation Area in Wausau on Saturday for the Badger State Games.
Five boys and five girls from Rhinelander's Nordic Ski Team competed in the high school 7K freestyle races.
"I really like this course. It's probably my favorite to skate race on," said junior Alex Lowry.
Just one of the boys skiers finished in the top 10 of the event.
But for such a young team, results aren't everything.
"Right now I'm the only non-freshman on the team, so we've got a lot of just raw talent, so they're just getting better and better. By their senior year or event my age, they're going to be very competitive," said Lowry.
The girls team also has mostly young skiers.
But for some of them, Saturday's race went better than expected.
"A lot of us, especially me at least, went into it thinking it wasn't going to be a good race, but I realized going through the race that it went really, really fast," said sophomore Emma Hjelle. "Conditions were so fast. Our wax was really great, and by the end of it I thought I had way more to go, and it was the finish line."
The Hodags raced at the Nine Mile Forest Recreation course in a classic style race a week ago, but Saturday's good weather made for better skiing.
"The conditions when we did the classic race were kind of sticky I guess, it wasn't as fast," said freshman Jenna Yonker.
The skiers also said they embraced the mild temperatures.
"It's warm, like our coach said to us before the race, we were all kind of shivering a little bit because you're always cold before the race, but she said 'not one of my skiers is going to be wearing his or her jacket today, because it's 25 degrees out'," said Hjelle.
The Hodags are back on the course at the Northern Conference Meet in Hayward on February second.
Lakeland Union's Kieran Mullen raced in the 7K Classic Style race on Saturday and finished second with a time of 17:52.
RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Police Department identified the man who died after a house fire on Friday night as 35-year-old Jeffery J. Becker.
Rhinelander Fire Chief Terry Williams told Newswatch 12 on Monday afternoon that an autopsy indicates Becker died from smoke inhalation, but the autopsy results and further investigation is now in the hands of the state Department of Criminal Investigations.
Crews responded to the house at 320 Rose Street, near Hodag Park, around 7:30 p.m. Friday. Firefighters went inside the house soon after they arrived and found Becker unresponsive on the floor. Firefighters and paramedics tried to revive Becker, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
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