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Iditarod Restart Shifted From Wasilla to Willow

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Once again, lack of snow has forced the Iditarod to shift its Sunday restart from Wasilla north to Willow.

Wasilla is typically a windy spot where snow is thin in a normal winter. A recent warm, wet weather pattern has left the city - the home of Iditarod Headquarters - with only a crust of dirty snow and last summer's grass poking out along the roadside.

So the race will start about an hour's drive north on the Parks Highway at the Willow Community Center. Iditarod officials, racers and long-time fans are accustomed to this. The race was rerouted through Willow for the same reason in 2001.   more...

 



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Michigan mushers tackle Iditarod

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When 87 dogsled teams hit the trail Saturday in Alaska for the 1,100-mile Iditarod race, the mushers will include three rookies from Michigan and a veteran from Ludington who has competed in the event three times.

Al Hardman is the veteran, and his tales of competing in the Last Great Race on Earth got son-in-law Jim Warren, 59, of Linwood, Ed Stielstra, 35, of McMillan, and Jim Conner, 35, of Grand Haven, into the sport.

Warren is the oldest rookie in the race.

"They might not be thanking me for it this time next week," Hardman said in a telephone call from Anchorage, where the teams will make a ceremonial start Saturday for Iditarod XXXII and then drive a couple of hours to Willow, where the race will begin for real 24 hours later.   more...

 



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WEEKEND SKI REPORT

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With trails open, base, new snow:

Southeastern Lower: Alpine Valley, 42"; Mt. Brighton, 26 trails, 22-34"; Mt. Holly, 19 trails, 30-52"; Pine Knob, 24-70".

Southwestern Lower: Bittersweet, 10 trails, 41"; Cannonsburg, 24-48"; Pando, 24-36"; Swiss Valley, 11 trails, 34-38"; Timber Ridge, 15 trails, 38".

Northeastern Lower: Apple Mountain, 24-48"; Hanson Hills, 11 trails, 45-50"; Skyline, 24"; Snow Snake, 10 trails, 20-40"; Treetops, 23 trails, 42".

Northwestern Lower: Boyne Highlands, 35 trails, 82"; Boyne Mountain, 37 trails, 84"; Caberfae Peaks, 34 trails, 54-82"; Crystal Mountain, 45 trails, 80"; Hickory Hills, 8 trails, 16-32"; Homestead, 30-40"; Missaukee, 24-36"; Mt. Holiday, 15 trails, 20"; Mt. McSauba, 65"; Nub's Nob, 43 trails, 82"; Shanty Creek, 47 trails, 80".

Upper Peninsula: Big Powderhorn, 26 trails, 54"; Blackjack, 20 trails, 26-50"; Gladstone, 18-24"; Indianhead, 23 trails, 30-60"; Marquette Mountain, 25 trails, 18-54"; Mt. Bohemia, 41 trails, 12-36"; Mont Ripley, 19 trails, 21-53"; Mt. Zion, 16-20"; Norway, 15 trails, 40-60"; Pine Mountain, 18 trails, 25-36"; Porcupine Mountains, 15 trails, 12-24"; Silver Mountain, 24"; Ski Brule, 17 trails, 40-80".

Ontario: Blue Mountain, 33 trails, 51"; Searchmont, 18 trails, 112", 9" new.



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Sledders drive up for food and fun

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photoALBA - Snowmobile helmets in day-glow colors sit on tables everywhere at the Green Lantern Bar. Patrons hoot and cheer others pressing whipped cream pies into a man's face on stage.
It's another Saturday night at one of the area's better known "snowmobile bars."
      Sledders from all over make this their destination, sometimes from as far as 50 miles away, because they know owner Lori Sheridan makes the Alba bar a home to those who ride in on any vehicle with skis.
      "Every time I come in, Lori gives me a big hug," said Steve Balyo of Houghton Lake, wearing his blue jacket open over bibbed snowpants.   more...

 

 

 




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Heat's on MIS for snowmobile race

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Normally, workers at Michigan International Speedway prefer their weather warm and settled. That's also true of NASCAR, IRL and ARCA drivers, their pit crews and the tens of thousands of spectators who flock to the racetrack each year.

But this weekend, most people associated with the track in Brooklyn are hoping for snow and cold, despite the forecast of temperatures in the low 50s Saturday and Sunday.

The reason: the inaugural Arctic Cat Snocross at the speedway, the eighth stop in the 10-race World Snowmobile Association series. The event is the first of its kind to be staged at MIS and will feature 11 classes of racing, ranging from junior class to sport, semi-pro and open-pro races.   more...

 



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Sugar Loaf Soap Opera Continues

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The latest in the sorry saga of Sugar Loaf Resort, once one of Michigan’s premier downhill ski resorts, is that it may be auctioned off to the highest bidder in a Sheriff’s auction, scheduled to take place at the Leland County courthouse March 22, according to a recent story in the Leelanau Enterprise.

If the sheriff’s auction is held as scheduled – and somebody can come up with enough money – ownership of the resort could change hands after a one-year “redemption” period during which the resort’s current owner, Pacific XIX, Inc., will be given the opportunity to pay off an overdue water and sewer bill before title to the resort is transferred.   more...

 



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Hunter builds marsh skis

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Cedarburg - Brian Hanrahan is reviving the lost art of making marsh skis.

Hanrahan is lifelong waterfowl hunter who had to quit his job as a construction worker after sustaining an injury last year.

Left with some time on his hands, Hanrahan decided to start making marsh skis.

He recalled seeing hunters using marsh skis on trips to Horicon Marsh with his father when he was growing up.

Traditional marsh skis are 10 feet long and 5 1/2 inches wide. They strap onto your wader boots.   more...

 



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Famed Berlin Raceway to host different type of races

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Race cars are not on docket this weekend; snowmobiles are.


NASCAR debuted its season this past weekend with a very exciting and, for some, very fulfilling running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Likewise, Berlin Raceway in suburban Grand Rapids will be getting its season off to a flying start this weekend with the Nelson's Speedshop Snocross.

Wheels and asphalt, however, most definitely will not be part of the program.

Instead, the famed Marne oval will be transformed into a hilly and high-banked snowmobile course as the World Snowmobile Association makes its first appearance at Berlin Raceway.    more...

 



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Pull up for a dog-sled adventure in Michigan

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You can be a musher, but you can't say "mush."

"That's only in the movies," says Fred Powers, owner of Wilderness Trail Outfitters in Wetmore, Mich., his voice letting me know he's had to explain this at least a million times.

Instead, Powers and his mushers—those driving a dogsled—have trained their huskies to follow many of the same commands that we follow. Meaning the dogs turn left when told "left," right when told "right." There are a few commands that need explaining: "Hike" in musher lingo means go; "easy" means slow down. Then there's "rock and roll," a term that tells the dogs to run as fast as they can.

And these huskies do rock and roll. According to Powers, his dogs can hit speeds of up to 24 miles an hour within the first 40 yards or so on the trail. After running four to six miles, the dogs slow down to about five to eight miles per hour.   more...

 



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2 for 1 Lift Ticket Coupon

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The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) is once again offering their popular two-for-one lift ticket discount. This season’s participants include a round-up of ten super ski facilities from across the state. Available only through’ MSIA’s web site, the ticket allows the holder to receive one free adult all-area lift ticket with the purchase of one adult all-area lift ticket at regular price.

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Cold is Cool

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The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) has established a state-wide program which provides every fourth grader in Michigan the opportunity to ski for free. Fourth graders can obtain a "Cold is Cool" Ski and Snowboard Passport that gives them up to three free lift tickets or trail passes at each of the 18 participating ski areas. This 4th Grade Passport promotion is just one of the components of MSIA" Cold is Cool" program, which is dedicated to improving the health of the children in our state by offering healthy winter outdoor activities for all Michigan kids and their families.

Kids can pick up Cold is Cool Ski and Snowboard Passport applications at their schools, participating MSIA ski shops, or online from the MSIA website . Kids must be accompanied by a paying adult to take advantage of this free offer, which allow up to two 4th graders to ski free with each paying adult.   more...



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Lake provides variety of winter fun

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FAIR HAVEN -- On a frost-bitten corner of Lake St. Clair, a village springs up each winter, just across the street from the Hook, Line and Sinker Bar and Grill.

Snowmobiles, ice anglers, all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, ice skaters and kids on sleds make this part of the lake at least as busy in the winter as it is during the summer months.

“We just get out here and mess around,” Brian Pariseau of Macomb County’s Shelby Township said while towing his daughter Jessie, 8, on a sled with his ATV.

Joe Weber of New Baltimore races snowmobiles. Between heats last weekend, he lit up his gas barbecue on the back of his trailer and grilled a leg of venison, the Detroit Free Press reported in a Thursday story.

“We feed half this place,” Weber said Sunday, waving the tail of his skunk fur hat.

Hundreds of ice shanties dot the lake. Some have benches, beds, insulation, heaters, appliances, televisions and other amenities.   more...

 



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Woody Brackney — ski bum and reluctant grown-up — is the life of the party on Michigan's slopes

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 Ken (Woody) Brackney gets to the top of the ski hill at Mt. Holly and ducks into the starting hut.

"This is tradition," he says.

 He digs through his backpack, which has a Curious George doll hanging on the outside, and grabs a cold can of beer. He cracks it open and takes a sip. "Ah," he says. "Time to drink some sponsors."

 Skiers go by on a chairlift, wearing numbered bibs. "Wooodyyyy!" they yell.

Everybody knows him by his nickname. On the slopes. In the lodge. In the bar. Nobody uses his last name.

He takes another sip of beer, sets the timing system and plugs in the headset. Woody is one of the organizers of the Coors Light Adult Ski League at Mt. Holly, which features 185 racers every Monday night who range from 21 years old to senior citizens. Some are serious competitors who raced in high school or college and wear skin-tight suits like Olympians. Others are women with young children who say, "This is Mom's Night Out." And a few rent their skis and snowplow through the course.   more...

 



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Winter seems like good old days for snowshoers

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GRAYLING -- The snowdrifts at Hartwick Pines State Park are deeper than a man is tall in some places, a throwback to the 1970s after a decade of unusually mild winters.

Sweat pours from Larry Weber's brows as he lumbers out of the woods on snowshoes and stops by his car for a long drink of water.

"This is fabulous, just perfect," the Sterling Heights machinist says as he catches his breath and cools down. "I started out this morning on a pair of small shoes with aluminum frames, but I was sinking knee-deep in the drifts and had to come back and get a pair of big wooden ones."

He waggles the three-foot Michigan-style snowshoes clamped to his feet with neoprene bindings.   more...

 



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Winter's Wonderland Workout

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Backcountry Skiing, Backcountry Snowboarding, Fitness Guide, FitnessYou've seen the folks at the top of the ski resort: They're wearing snowshoes and a daypack, tromping away from the groomed runs and toward a scenic ridge. Or they're skinning uphill on telemark skis toward a powder face with no lift service—to carve lines for free. Who are these people blazing their own trails in the backcountry? They're the ones who know that keeping super- fit from November to April outside of the gym is easy.

More than six million snow hogs now participate in backcountry snowshoeing, snowboarding, and skiing, reaping incredible health benefits. "Heading into the backcountry is the best fat-burning workout you can get in winter," says Cathy Sassin, a Bend, Oregon-based adventure racer and nutritionist. One hour of snowshoeing or uphill skiing, for example, can burn 680 calories, compared with only 408 burned during downhill skiing, and 340 when you hike.   more...


 



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