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Cold lures ice anglers, but danger still lurks

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ImageThe return of bone-chilling cold has allowed Metro Detroit anglers to head back to local lakes to drop a line through the ice, but officials are still urging them to proceed with caution.

And while the U.S. Coast Guard and local fire departments have been called on relatively few rescues this winter, they are stressing a different safety message this year.

Previously, it was "no ice is safe ice." Now the message has become an acronym: ICE, or Intelligence, Clothing and Equipment.

"The other one has gotten old," said Ed Merrick, a 70-year-old ice fisherman from Marine City who does his ice fishing on Anchor Bay in Lake St. Clair. "People look at (the lake) as one broad expanse of ice, and it's not."

The new message was released last week as temperatures soared into the upper 50s, causing almost all ice to melt and making what remained unsafe. The Coast Guard has conducted two ice rescue operations on Lake St. Clair so far this winter, but no injuries were reported. In Oakland County, Sheriff's Department officials said they have not had any ice rescue operations on inland lakes so far.



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Workers ready MIS for flurry of snowmobile races

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takes water to make snow. But it takes a lot of water to make a snowmobile course.

The snow is piling up at Michigan International Speedway in preparation for the Arctic Cat Snocross at the Speedway this weekend.

The World Snowmobile Association turned on three machines Friday and started pushing snow around to build the course Wednesday.

The snowmaking process is a complicated one. Still winds and low temperatures work best, but no matter what the conditions, the WSA makes a lot of the white stuff.   more...

 



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Ice boating delayed

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Clinton Township world ice boating champion Ron Sherry hopes the weather takes a turn for the better on Lake Winnebago, Wis., as he and 120 other ice boaters prepare for the Gold Cup DN World Championships.

Championship racing was supposed to begin Monday, but 2-degree temperatures canceled the event because Gold Cup rules call for temperatures to be 10 degrees or above to race.

On Tuesday, a winter clipper from Canada socked Wisconsin and left 1-foot snow drifts on the lake, canceling the event for a second day.

"On Monday it was 2 degrees and too windy which presented the danger of frostbite," Sherry said via cell phone from Wisconsin. "It was really, really cold on the lake. On Tuesday, the winds were blowing 25-35 mph, so racing was canceled again. We woke up (Wednesday) to snow that formed 12-inch drifts on the lake. The boats would stop right in the drifts."

Gold Cup DN race organizers were looking for another possible site in Wisconsin to conduct the annual race.

"Mother Nature is being harsh right now," Sherry said. "Either too cold, too much wind or too much snow."

Sherry, a three-time world champion ice boater, is competing against the best in the world, including Tomas Carlson of Stockholm, Sweden, along with several entries from Macomb and Oakland counties.

Race organizers have until Saturday to find a suitable site to conduct the annual race, otherwise the world championships will be cancelled.

"We're hopeful it will go off Thursday or Friday," Sherry said. "We have 22 competitors in from across Europe, plus the Americans. We want to race."  more...



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DNs TO MADISON!

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The DN Gold Cup and North American Regatta has moved from Lake Winnebago to Madison's largest lake, Lake Mendota. The DNs will use the Warner Beach landing on Woodward St. on Madison's north side. The Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club is excited about greeting 120 DNs from 8 different countries when they come to compete on Lake Mendota. First race is at 11:00 AM Thursday, January 20.    more...

Ice Boating- Lake Mendota, 1896
Charles N. Brown, photographer
Irving Brown in boat?

 



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Making Snow Is Long, Laborious Task for Second Annual Snocross

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BROOKLYN, Mich. — As an employee since the inception of the World Snowmobile Association back in 1997, WSA snowmaking operations employee Greg Zaleski knows a little bit about snowmaking.

    Zaleski’s expertise has come in handy over the past four days, as he and his crew have been busy making mountains of snow on Michigan International Speedway’s tri-oval grass area in preparation for the second annual Arctic Cat Snocross at the Speedway this weekend at MIS.

    The crew of three travel around the country making snow in preparation for WSA Snocross events, and have been blowing out bundles of the white stuff since they began the operation on Friday morning.  

    “People are fascinated by the snowmaking process,” said Zaleski. “When we pulled into town, they saw the snowmaking trucks and asked us if we were going to be out at the track. We answered a lot of questions just from people coming up to us over the last four days.”   more...

 



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Sleeping Bear awaits snowshoers

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GLEN ARBOR -- Shhhh. We're hunting wabbits.

Well, not really. But it'd be nice to sneak up on a bunny or two. Or a coyote, fox or whitetail deer. Better yet -- a cougar. We know they're out here; we can see their tracks in the pristine snow of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

With naturalist Vern Korkus of the National Park Service as our guide, about 25 snowshoers are making their way through the scenic hills and valleys of the national lakeshore. The guided hike is part of a new offering at The Homestead resort in Glen Arbor, which rents out snowshoes and has contracted with Korkus to offer the hikes at 1 p.m. Saturdays through early March. Considering the resort's proximity to the national lakeshore's 70,000 acres, the sport, along with backcountry skiing, is an ideal fit.

"We don't have groomed trails here," said Nick Nerbonne, Homestead public relations director. "But we have miles and miles of pristine land that's just begging to be explored."    more...

 



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Cross-country should be fun

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You see them at cross-country ski trails all over the state, earnest novices shuffling along at a walking pace with their coats unzipped but still red-faced and sweating from being overdressed.

These two-time-a-year skiers are getting exercise, but a lot of them don't look like they're having much fun. And that's a shame, because with an hour or so of instruction, they could learn tips and techniques that would make their stride 100 percent more efficient and the effort 200 percent more enjoyable.

"It really feels good when you get into a groove and are gliding along smoothly," said Caryl ) Lindsay, who with her husband, Kim Ball, teaches cross-country skiing at Independence Oaks Park in Oakland County. "I hear people who are just shuffling along complain that it's hard work, but if you're skiing properly and you're getting that long glide between kicks, it's feels so easy."   more...

 



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DN Worlds and North Americans

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What a week! Last weekend it looked like almost the only sailable ice in the Midwest (and maybe even all of almost North-America) was on the Wisconsin-Minnesota border. Lake Pepin was the primary site for the DN Gold-Cup and NA regattas. Wednesday changed everything. A warm rain fell over much of Wisconsin, and most of the snow melted onto the surface of the lakes. Wednesday night I looked at the reflections of the city lights in the water standing on top of the ice on Lake Monona in Madison. Thursday morning the surfaces of both big lakes in Madison were smooth. A strong wind and slowly dropping temperatures Thursday cleaned things up even more. As John Davenport put it in his Western-Region hotline message, the "miracle Zamboni" really worked it's magic on the lakes. Because of the forecast ultra-cold temperatures, John had already postponed the GC/NA regatta start by a day. By Thursday night he had moved the primary site 200 miles east from Pepin to Winnebago. more...


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Ice fishing delights

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HOUGHTON -- It was a cold day on the frozen surface of Portage Lake, overcast and snowing slightly with a mild southwest wind. David Gidcumb stood next to a hole in the ice with his short fishing rod bent nearly double as he fought a big, unseen fish that had grabbed a minnow-tipped lure suspended in the turbid waters 20 feet below.

His dad, Mike, knelt on the ice, trying to see what his 22-year-old son had hooked, hoping to help get it up through the hole without knocking it off. The fish made a couple of runs, making the drag on the reel chatter, before David brought it up just under the ice. Mike steered its head to the hole so he could grab the 6-pound northern pike -- one of the few fish taken on a slow day.

Twenty-four hours later, the fishing had picked up -- at least for David. His father wasn't catching anything but barbs from other anglers because his kid was outfishing him about 10-to-1.   more...

 



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Ski wax goes long way in different conditions

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Start, a Finnish manufacturer of cross-country ski waxes, has come out with a product called Grip Tape for Skis, a wax that goes under the foot section of classical kick-and-glide skis to give the skier the traction needed to move forward.

What makes this stuff unusual is that: a) it supposedly works in temperatures from minus-4 to 41 above; b) one application should last at least 120 miles, a whole cross-country season for most people; and c) its glide characteristics rival those of the best crayon-on waxes.

After applying it to a pair of Fischer classic skis I have used for two seasons, I can attest that this stuff works well in temperatures ranging from 18 to 32, and after 40 miles the grip seems to be just as good as ever. It has eliminated the need to carry a half-dozen cans of kick waxes I normally crayon on and buff in as temperature and snow conditions change, sometimes two or three times a day.   more...

 



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Ice Festival and "Ice & Spice" Chili Cook-Off this Weekend

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The 5th annual Bay Harbor Ice Festival and Chili Cook-Off are happening this weekend, January 14-16.   Watch as block ice is transformed into magical sculptures of art.  Enjoy live carving throughout the day from 10 am to 5 pm, weather permitting.   At night, stroll through the village as the sculptures come alive with light and create a wintery wonderland.  

The "Ice & Spice" Chili Cook-Off is held on Saturday, January 15 from 1 - 4 pm.   The chili is cooked on-site and prepared by many local chili experts.    Serving is held  in the Bay Harbor Resort & Marina Conference Center.   There is a  $5 charge  for admission  at the door.   All proceeds benefit the Little Traverse Historical Society.   Best chili and costume prizes are awarded  for $500 and $100, respectively.   Come to the chili cook-off and vote for your favorites.   more...

 



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CRAIG WILSON-KITE AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY

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Craig Wilson is one of the few photographers we have seen that can successfully capture the essence of ice yachting on pictures.  His just-above-the-spar point of view is totally unique and Craig is making a name for himself in the world of photography. Craig's photos are available for purchase.  Email him or give him a call for more information. Craig is also one of the organizers of "Kites on Ice", a Wisconsin winter kite festival held in Madison on February 3-4,2001.  Find out more about "Kites on Ice" at www.madfest.org.

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Interest high for sled dog race; Many mushers

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MARQUETTE - With the early availability of plenty of good snow, organizers of the U.P. 200 sled dog race expect a record number of mushers to compete in this year's event.

"I think the most we ever had was 36 (teams) and with six weeks left before the race, I wouldn't be surprised if we eclipse that," said U.P. 200 Race Manager Mike Hutchens of Skandia.

The race is set for Feb. 18-20 in Marquette and Alger counties.

So far, 26 teams have signed up for the 12-dog race. The number of teams competing has been capped at 40. In the companion Midnight Run, 16 6-dog teams have registered, with race entries capped at 50.    more...

 



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2005 DN Western Regionals by Geoff Sobering

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The second day of the regatta was warmer and perhaps slightly windier, although the wind velocity varied quite a bit and there were a couple of frustratingly slow races. The snow cover on the ice had stiffened up quite a bit overnight, making it pretty sticky. Interestingly, there were some patches were the snow was beginning to blow/sublime away. The RC was able to get off four races in both the gold and silver fleets to complete the seven-race regatta by about 1:30. The Gold-Fleet winner is Markham Chatterton of La Crosse; Jane Pegal came in second. The Silver-Fleet winner is John Loomis of Minnetonka.   more...

 



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Radical Boarding at Michigan Terrain Parks

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snowboarder.jpgChallenging, obstacle-strewn terrain parks are multiplying across the state. In fact, nearly every downhill ski area in Michigan now operates a terrain park.

At the Upper Peninsula’s Blackjack Ski Resort in Bessemer, boarders surf a steep, curved snow wall known as a half-pipe and cruise back uphill on their own rope tow. The snowboard course ranks as one of the best around, with “haystacks” and other obstacles sculpted out of snow. Skiers and boarders head for the Spillway and Cameron, peppered with skill-testing moguls.

Both Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain near Petoskey have expanded their beginner area terrain parks and added complete rail yards to their advanced terrain parks. Both ski areas have also added glade skiing terrain and have expanded and enhanced snowmaking capabilities.   more...

 



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