Spectators brave cold for derby - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Spectators brave cold for derby


Despite below freezing temperatures, thousands headed to Eagle River this weekend for the 50th anniversary of the Amsoil World Snowmobile Championships.

Fans say braving the cold is all part of the experience. As drivers revved their engines, spectators fought the frigid temperatures.

"One of the things I did this year was buy this hat. I've wanted one of these for years," Dean Cook from Sugar Camp said.

For Cook, staying warm meant wearing an authentic fur hat.

"Put one of these on and you stay really warm, don't feel any breeze," Cook told Newsline 9.

The cold means big business for one vendor.

"Especially on a day like today, so it helps us," Kami Biermann, owner of Wild Things said.

Wild Things has set up shop next to the derby track for 25 years.

"For hats, mittens, headbands, all kinds of fur products," Biermann said.

Organizers say it's never too cold for competition.

This has never been canceled in 50 years, as low as 40 below, as high as 40 above," Dick Becker from the Amisol World Championship said.

But it wasn't just the spectators trying to stay warm. Drivers say the bitter temperatures change the way they race.

"So many things change on the sled, motor tuning is different. We had warm weather all week here, so it's going to be a totally different game," racer PJ Wanderscheid said.

PJ Wanderscheid hit the track with several injuries this year. But he says despite the cold racing here is worth it.

"If this would be any other race, I don't think I'd be here this weekend," Wanderscheid told Newsline 9.

"Winning Eagle River is like winning Indianapolis," Becker said.

With thousands of people in town, hotel managers say the race is good for business.

"We do almost a full house both weekends," Adonica Waalkens, assistant manager at Days Inn said.

Eagle River hasn't seen much snow so far this winter. That's why managers at the Days Inn say the snowmobile races are so important.

"Without the derby and the vintage, you don't make it through slow time," Waalkens said.

But this weekend the derby was anything but slow, helping bring millions of dollars to this Northwoods community.

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