A 19-year-old woman from Beaver Dam has died after crashing her snowmobile.

The accident happened in St. Germaine, near Highway 70 just south of East Holiday Drive.

The Vilas County Sheriff’s office says Emily Lyons went off the trail and struck a tree.  She was airlifted to Wausau hospital for her injuries, but died Sunday.

The accident is under investigation by the Vilas County Sheriff’s Office and the WI DNR.

It’s the 11th snowmobile fatality so far this winter.

Emily Bright

The World Championship Snowmobile Derby take places in Eagle River this weekend, with the vintage classes wrapping up last weekend.  WXPR’s Emily Bright takes a behind-the-scenes look at the camaraderie and competition of the international snowmobile races going on in our own backyard.

Two Fatal Accidents Claim Lives in Vilas County

Jan 12, 2015

A 34-year-old Pewaukee man was killed in a snowmobile accident Saturday in Plum Lake Township --off of Birch Spring Road near Sayner.

Vilas County investigators say Jason Ringle fell off a snowmobile and was struck by another snowmobile in his group.

It was the first snowmobile-related death recorded in Wisconsin this year.  

The accident remains under investigation by Vilas County authorities and the DNR.

Wisconsin recorded three snowmobile-related deaths in December.  

Robert Thigpen

Conover hasn’t yet decided whether to change course on its plan for a federally-funded bike and snowmobile trial.

The Conover Town Center was packed and tempers flared last night during a special town board meeting called to discuss allowing ATVs on part of the trail route.

An ATV trail in Conover would connect trails between Eagle River and Phelps. But silent sport enthusiasts were concerned that motorizing the trail would be a danger to bikers, pedestrians, and equestrians alike.

With the World Championship Snowmobile Derby ending Sunday in Eagle River, many enthusiasts are in the Northwoods to enjoy some of the best snowmobiling in years. This is also International Snowmobile Safety Week.

DNR Snowmobile Administrator Warden Gary Eddy says with busy trails, always keep in mind safety...


"....some of the traditional complaints we have out there when it is busy are snowmobilers cutting corners, not staying on the right side of the trail, speeding and just overall reckless operation...."

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

The Snowmobile World Championship is expected to draw tens of thousands.  But the vintage races also draw a crowd.

Vintage cars, vintage records…but vintage snowmobiles?  That I had not heard of before moving to the Northwoods. I was curious about what draws people to the sport, so I headed to the offices of the Eagle River derby track for the weekend of the vintage racing championship. 

I interrupt the busy office clamor with my request.  Audrey Decker is wearing a vintage snowmobile  – black sweater with orange stripes, and fluffy lambs wool boots. 

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

Vintage snowmobile racers compete this weekend in Eagle River in the world championship.  

The world championship may be a week away…but spectators at the vintage race are all about the here and now.  The qualifying rounds for the vintage championship are filled with sleds from the 70s and 80s…or older.  They’re smaller and more antique looking than today’s ultrafast monsters.  And though next weekend’s races will draw a bigger crowd, more people enter the vintage categories.  Elmer Jensen is a longtime volunteer at the derby. 

Tim Gillin

The frigid weather may have kept skiers indoors for a few days…but otherwise this season’s conditions have been prime for cross country skiing. 

Tim Collins, Director of Minocqua Winter Park says the park had its biggest day ever the Saturday after Christmas. 

“We had over a thousand people out at Winter Park, on Saturday December 28.  And the numbers before and after were very close.  So all of our trails, 100 kilometers of ski and snowshoe trails have been groomed to perfection this season.”

Eagle River Fire Department

Eagle River’s legendary ice castle has been built once again by the area fire department.  

The design is new every year, but the method isn’t:  Eagle River deputy fire chief Jim Bonson says the ice harvesting saws and other tools date back more than 80 years.   

 “We’ve been doing it since 1933 as a community and it just has become a tradition.  When we don’t have it, like the last two years due to weather conditions, people get excited when all of a sudden it appears.”

Manfred Werner

Snowmobile trails are opening across the Northwoods.  Phelps trails open Thursday, and Forest County trails open Friday.

Most Oneida County trails opened Wednesday.  Minocqua Chamber of Commerce Director Kim Baltus says wintry conditions this early in the year is a big deal.

“It’s been several years since the trails have been open before the holidays, and a very long time since we’ve been able to really invite tourists to come and spend their holiday vacation hopefully between Christmas and New Years in the Northwoods.”

Joe Ross

An early opening for Vilas County trails has snowmobile clubs and local businesses in good spirits.  The date was moved up from Tuesday December 17th to this Friday December 13th at 6 pm.

Vilas County Parks and Recreation Forester Dale Mayo says opening day usually happens after the four-day antlerless deer hunt ends.  But he says this year low temperatures and snow conditions seem to have discouraged many hunters.

Manfred Werner

Snow has started to pile up here in the Northwoods, and that’s good news for snowmobilers. 

Oneida County Forest Director John Bilogan says conditions could be frozen enough in a few days.  But he’s guessing it will be about two weeks before the state-funded trails actually open. 

“It’s all the paperwork side of things – the insurance policies, private land easements, land-use agreements, all have to be in place from the snowmobile clubs and on file in our forestry office.”