TINA L. SCOTT
The annual Badger State Winter Games (BSWG) kicked off their 33rd year with the 2022 Snowmobile Torch Ride that kicked off on Thursday, January 13 at the Trailmates Snowmobile Club in Wausau. The Torch Ride went through Merrill and stopped at about 10 a.m. that day at DuWayne Kreager Insurance Center, one of the Ride’s sponsors.
Further on, it stopped at checkpoints in Tomahawk, Hazelhurst, the Minocqua/Woodruff area, Lake Tomahawk, Sayner, and St. Germain during the two-day 200-mile drive. The Torch Ride involved 15 snowmobile clubs and traveled through Marathon, Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas counties.
[If you like snowmobiles, did you know the snowmobile was invented in Sayner, Wis., and there is a Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain, Wis.?]
The ultimate destination? The center of the oval racetrack in time for the opening ceremony of the BSWG in Eagle River on Friday evening, January 14 at 6:00 PM, in time for the national anthem, then the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Queen, AJ Kraeger, igniting the cauldron with the torch that traveled those 200 miles.
That lighting also marked the start of the 59th annual World Snowmobile Derby Championship.
Many businesses and snowmobile clubs make the annual torch relay possible, including Merrill’s DuWayne Kreager Insurance Center and three Lincoln County snowmobile clubs: L&L Tree Dodgers, Northwoods Passage, and Knight Owls Snowmobile Club.
Historically, in 1989, when the Badger State Winter Games first began, Governor Tommy Thompson snowmobiled the torch from the steps of the state capitol in Madison to Wausau’s Marathon Park for the opening ceremony.
Wausau is home to the Badger State Winter and Summer Games, Wisconsin’s largest annual sports competition modeled on the Olympics. But the Badger State Games (BSWG) aren’t just for Olympic-caliber athletes. Amateur athletes of all ages and abilities can compete for the challenge and fun of it. Some of the 23 different BSWG events also take place in other communities in the state of Wisconsin. All the events and fun of the competition are designed to promote an active, healthy lifestyle; giving athletes the opportunity to enjoy and participate in sports they love; and cherish a little good natured fun and excitement. While the first BSWG in 1989 only offered five events – alpine skiing, curling, cross country, figure skating and hockey, the 2022 BSWG will feature 23 sporting events featuring athletes competing for gold, silver and bronze medals in: alpine skiing and youth hockey (which actually started on January 8); Archery and NASP [National Archery in the Schools Program); Figure Skating; Curling; Nordic Skiing; Handball; Bench Press/Dead Lift; Billiards; Cornhole; Fat Tire Bike; Pickleball; Bowling; Gymnastics; Table Tennis; Martial Arts; and Trap Shooting. The events begin in January and go into April.
Complete information, events, schedules, registration information, locations, and more are available at www.badgerstategames.org. Call 715.355.8788 with questions or to volunteer or become a sponsor.