Annual Snowmobile Torch Ride for 34th Edition of the Badger State Witner Games stops in Merrill
TINA L. SCOTT
On Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, the 2023 Badger State Snowmobile Torch Ride started in Wausau at the Trailmates Snowmobile Club and then made a stop in Merrill at Incredible Bank for a meet and greet. A caravan of officials and snowmobile club members representing snowmobiling in Wisconsin were greeted by Todd Nagel, President and CEO of IncredibleBank, who hosted the event with refreshments. After several photo opps, the torch was lit outside with an assembled group including, but not limited to: Todd Nagel, President/CEO of IncredibleBank; Susan Ryman, Market Manager of IncredibleBank; Jeff Anderson, Wisconsin Dept. of Tourism; Drew Nussbaum, Wisconsin Dept. of Tourism; Dave Newman, President of Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC); Lori Heideman, Vice President of AWSC; Gary Hilgendorf, AWSC Director for Lincoln County; Wayde Kreager, AWSC Director for Marathon County; Randy Thurs, Trailmates Snowmobile Club; Rachyl Burzinski, AWSC Miss Snowflake for 2022; Rodney Burzinski, AWSC Director for Rock County (a/k/a Papa Snowflake, as he is the father of this year’s Miss Snowflake); 2021 Miss Snowflake A.J. Kreager from Wausau, and a member of the Trailmates Snowmobile Club; and many members of area snowmobile clubs. In addition, local representatives were there to greet the entourage including myself on behalf of the Merrill Foto News; Steve Resnick of Sunrise Broadcasting; Clyde Nelson, Director of Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce, Sarah Sturm, Marketing Director of Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce, and Cheryl Skoug, Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce.
Tomahawk Sports Center donated the two 600 Ace Ski-doo snowmobiles for this year’s torch run.
This year’s AWSC Miss Snowflake, Rachyl Burzinski from Beloit, was crowned the end of Oct. 2022 at the annual AWSC workshop. The 20-year-old attends Gateway Technical College and will graduate this spring with a degree in Graphic Design. The 2022 Miss Snowflake is the 53rd in a long line of ladies to wear the crown. Rachyl had her first ride on a snowmobile when she was just a few months old. At age three, she started racing snowmobiles, both on the snow and ice and in the off-season, running grass drag races, and she’s been racing ever since.
The torch continued from Merrill on a two-day run that included the participation of 17 snowmobile clubs, crossed four counties, and covered more than 200 miles of snowmobile trails from Wausau to Eagle River, with additional stops in Tomahawk, Hazlehurst, Minocqua, Lake Tomahawk, Arbor Vitae, Sayner, (where the snowmobile was invented), St. Germain (home of the Snowmobile Hall of Fame), Sugar Camp, Rhinelander, Three Lakes, and Eagle River (home of the World Snowmobile Headquarters Museum).
The ride culminated with the Opening Ceremony and Lighting of the Winter Games Cauldron at the 60th World Championship Snowmobiling Derby in Eagle River for the World Championship races and Badger State Games (BSG).
This year’s torch ride was sponsored by DuWayne Kreager Insurance Center, Inc. Wausau/Tomahawk/Rhinelander, Tomahawk Sports Center, Ritchie Oil & Propane Minocqua, Lakeland Powersports Woodruff, Pitlik’s Resort Eagle River, Dave Mroczynski American Family Insurance Eagle River/Rhinelander, and the communities of Wausau, Merrill, Tomahawk, Hazelhurst, Minocqua, Woodruff, Arbor Vitae, Sayner, St. Germain, Sugar Camp, Three Lakes, and Eagle River.
It was also made possible due to the active involvement of Wisconsin snowmobile clubs including Trailmates Snowmobile Club, Wisconsin Valley Sno-Jets, L&L Tree Dodgers, Rock Island X-Press, Northwoods Passage, Knight Owls Snowmobile Club, Minocqua Forest Riders Snowmobile Club, Northern Trail Unlimited, Northern Lights Snowmobile Club, Three Lakes-Brule River Trail Snowmobile Club, Sugar Camp Snowmobile Club, Hodag Sno Trails, Northern Lights Snowmobile Club, Cross Country Cruisers, Barnstormers of Sayner, St. Germain Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club, and Sno-Eagles Inc.
In 1989 when the Badger State Winter Games began, then Governor Tommy Thompson started from the steps of the Capital in Madison and drove the torch by snowmobile to Wausau and Marathon Park for the Lighting of the Cauldron and the Opening Ceremonies of the Badger State Winter Games.
Wausau is the home to the Badger State Winter and Summer Games with events also taking place in various communities around the State of Wisconsin. For information about any of the 18 Badger State Winter Games events, contact Nick Ockwig at [email protected]sitwausau.com or 715.355.8788.
2023 BSG Winter Games sponsors include: Presenting Sponsor Mullins Whey, CoVantage Credit Union, Habush Habush & Rottier S.C., Peoples State Bank, Marshfield Children’s Hospital, UMR, TDS Fiber, and Cellcom. BSG are organized by the Wausau/Central Wisconsin Sports Authority.