2022 Snowmobile Torch Ride brings Badger State Winter Games torch through Merrill


The Annual Badger State Winter Games (BSWG) kicked off their 33rd year with the 2022 Snowmobile Torch Ride that started on Thursday, Jan. 13, at the Trailmates Snowmobile Club in Wausau. The Torch Ride passed through Merrill and made a stop at about 10:00 a.m. that day at DuWayne Kreager Insurance Center, one of the sponsors of the Ride.

Continuing on, it made stops at checkpoints in Tomahawk, Hazelhurst, the Minocqua/Woodruff area, Lake Tomahawk, Sayner, and St. Germain over the course of the two-day, 200-mile Ride. 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 race track in time for the Opening Ceremonies of the BSWG in Eagle River on Friday evening, Jan. 14, at 6:00 p.m., in time for the National Anthem, and then the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Queen, AJ Kraeger, lighting the caldron with the torch that traveled those 200 miles.

That lighting also signaled the start of the 59th Annual World Championship Snowmobile Derby.

Many businesses and snowmobile clubs make the Annual Torch Ride possible, including DuWayne Kreager Insurance Center of Merrill 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, then Governor Tommy Thompson drove the torch via snowmobile from the steps of the Capital in Madison to Wausau’s Marathon Park for the Opening Ceremonies.

Wausau is the home of the Badger State Winter and Summer Games, Wisconsin’s largest annual sporting competition modeled after the Olympic Games. But the Badger State Games (BSWG) aren’t just for Olympic-caliber athletes. Amateur athletes of any age and ability can compete for the challenge and fun of it. Some of the 23 different BSWG events also take place in other communities throughout the state of Wisconsin. All of the events, and the fun of the competition, are designed to promote active, healthy lifestyles; give athletes an opportunity to enjoy and compete in sports they love; and foster a little good-natured fun and excitement. While the first BSWG in 1989 offered only five events – Alpine Skiing, Curling, Nordic Skiing, Figure Skating, and Hockey, the 2022 BSWG will offer 23 sporting events with athletes vying to win Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals in: Alpine Skiing and Youth Hockey (which actually began Jan. 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.

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