We were so honored to be involved with the Badger State Games Olympic Torch Ride on Thursday, January 16, 2020. The Minocqua Forest Riders received the torch from the Northern Unlimited Trails Snowmobile Club, and then passed it onto the Cross Country Cruisers Snowmobile Club! A huge thank you to our President Curt Christensen for putting together this wonderful story about it’s history! Story below:
Badger State Games:
The Winter Olympics became part of the Badger State Games in the late 1980s. To promote the event, then Governor Tommy Thompson created a Torchlight Snowmobile Ride from Madison to Wausau. And yes, the machines had wheels!
During the 1990s and through 2010, a short torchlight ride was held within the city of Wausau at the beginning of the games. In 2010 the Wausau Convention and Visitor Bureau took ownership rights of the Badger State Games. At that time the Torchlight Snowmobile Ride was discontinued.
Winter Games and WCSD:
One of the events at the Winter Games is Kiddy Cat snowmobile racing, held at a track in Wausau. That event was going to be discontinued this season until the World Championship Snowmobile Derby volunteered to take it on as part of Derby Weekend in Eagle River.
In addition to adding the event, the organizers decided to have a first ever Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in conjunction with the Race Weekend Opening Ceremony.
Winter Games and WCSD:
In planning for the Opening Ceremony, the idea was born to resurrect the passing of the olympic torch from Wausau to Eagle River, prior to the event. Local snowmobile clubs were contacted to attend a planning meeting right before the holiday season. A route was determined and Meet/Greet stops were selected. A second planning meeting was held two weeks prior to the event and the schedule was finalized.
Minocqua Forest Riders:
Our club’s responsibility was to receive the torch at the Hazelhurst Pub from the Northern Trails Unlimited Snowmobile Club and transport it to Dr. Pink Drive where the Cross Country Cruisers would carry it into Minocqua. Our club chose Debbie Rohowetz as the torch bearer and her husband Ed to pilot the torch snowmobile because of their hard work and dedication to making the Northwoods Cancer Ride a successful annual event. Our club, being so proud of their accomplishments, felt it more than appropriate to honor them in this way.