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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Updated: Junior Olympics cross-country skiers enjoy Alaska trip

By Jay Woodbeck

HANCOCK -- Alaska was amazing! There were fantastic ski trails at Kincaid Park and amazing sights to see around Anchorage. The trails were right by the ocean and offered spectacular mountain views. On clear days, you can see Mt. McKinley from various spots on the trails.

They didn’t have a very good snow year in Anchorage this year, but the organizers and volunteers were able to shovel snow on the trails and change course routes so that I could never tell that I was only skiing on a few inches of snow.

Jay Woodbeck, author of this article, skis in the classic sprint on Mar. 10, 2008, the first day of the Junior Olympics competition held at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo © 2008 Dean Woodbeck. Reprinted with permission.)

Racing started on Monday, Mar. 10, with the classic sprint race. Unfortunately, my coaches and I had a bit of a miscommunication; and I didn’t have very good kick for the race. I double-poled my fastest for the qualifier and ended up in 82nd place (the J1 boys' field was about 95 deep in all of the races).

The next race was on Wednesday and ended up being the individual start 10 Km skate instead of the scheduled mass start 15 Km classic, because the organizers switched the two races. The course had some big hills, but it flowed very well and was enjoyable to ski. I came in 80th place.

Jay Woodbeck skis in the 10 km skate race during the Junior Olympics competition in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo © 2008 Dean Woodbeck. Reprinted with permission.)

Thursday was a training day. After previewing the next day’s classic course, we went for a drive to the Portage Glacier along the Seward Highway. There were some spectacular views of mountains on both sides of the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet. We picked a great day to go, as it was warm and sunny and the views of the glacier were breathtaking.

Local skiers, members of the 2008 Great Lakes Division Team for the Junior Olympics, visit the Portage Glacier near Anchorage, Alaska. Pictured, from left, are Olivia Orr (Hancock), Kai Sharp (Houghton), Jay Woodbeck (Hancock), Madelyn Shoup (Houghton), Ruth Oppliger (Hancock) and Mariah Featherly (2007 Houghton high school graduate). (Photo © 2008 Jay Woodbeck. Reprinted with permission.)

With a morning start time, the classic skiing was perfect on Friday. Training on the hills around here paid off for me, as I had my best individual race of the week, finishing in 67th place, while managing to avoid crashes after the mass start. A non-racing highlight on Friday was getting up-close and personal with a moose while skiing by her during my cool down. Earlier in the week I also saw one walking on the street in front of our hotel in downtown Anchorage.

Pictured here in the 3x5 km relay race, held Saturday, Mar. 15, Jay Woodbeck, center, skis with his team to a 20th-place finish, his best race of the week. (Photo © 2008 Dean Woodbeck. Reprinted with permission.)

The final race was the 3x5 km relay race on Saturday. I had my best race of the week, passing nine teams on my leg to help my team -- consisting of me and two other Great Lakes skiers from Marquette -- to a 20th-place finish among the J1 boys teams.

Great Lakes Division Team members pause for a group photo on a bridge at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska, during the 2008 Junior Olympics cross-country ski races. (Photo © 2008 Jay Woodbeck. Reprinted with permission.)

I had a great experience at Junior Olympics, and all of my hard work and training over the past year has really paid off. I would like to thank the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club, Copper Country Ski Tigers and the Copper Island Ski Club for the generous scholarships that they gave me. Also, I would like to thank my coach Mike Young, who put in countless hours to help me prepare for the event. I am very grateful that the local ski community is so supportive of junior skiing in the Copper Country.

Editor's Note: Jay Woodbeck, the author of this article, is a member of the Copper Country Ski Tigers. His Dad, Dean Woodbeck, who took most of these photos, has also published articles and more photos of the Junior Olympics on his new blog, Keweenaw Tales.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Fourth Annual Northern Lights Film Festival at MTU, Apr. 3 - 5

Zana Briski, director of the 2004 Academy Award-winning documentary Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids, is pictured here with one of the children featured in the film. It will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday, Apr. 4, in MTU's McArdle Theatre, as part of the Northern Lights Film Festival. (Photo courtesy Northern Lights Film Festival)

HOUGHTON -- The Northern Lights Film Festival returns to the McArdle Theatre at Michigan Tech Thursday through Saturday, Apr. 3-5, with three days of independent films, talks and featured guests Geralyn White Dreyfous and Avijit Halder.

Dreyfous is currently the Executive Director of the Salt Lake City Film Center and was Executive Producer of the 2004 Academy Award-winning documentary Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids. Dreyfous will be accompanied by Avijit Halder, one of the children who learned photography in this inspiring film about the power of art and the resiliency of children. Dreyfous and Halder will be on hand to introduce the film at 7 p.m. Friday, Apr. 4. They will also discuss Kids with Cameras, the international organization founded as a result of the film.

Avijit Halder is one of the child photographers featured in the film, Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids, which will be shown at 7 p.m. on Friday, Apr. 4., during the Northern Lights Film Festival at Michigan Tech's McArdle Theatre. Halder and Geralyn White Dreyfous (pictured above left), executive producer of the film, will introduce and discuss the film. (Photos courtesy Northern Lights Film Festival)

In addition to the presentation of Born Into Brothels, Friday will offer screenings at noon of two documentary shorts -- Kick Like a Girl, about a girls' soccer team that winds up competing with the boys, and Pulling Together: The Little Community that Could, about local fitness director Terry Smythe and the diverse group of people who rowed their way to victory in the North American Indoor Rowing Competition.

At 4 p.m. on Friday, Diane Shoos, president of the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter, will introduce Sisters in Law, the story of two women who began prosecuting domestic violence cases in a small Cameroon community.

At 5 p.m. on Thursday, Apr. 3, the festival will be screening 2007 Student Academy Award Winners and, at 7 p.m., The Death of Michael Smith, filmed on location in Detroit by up-and-coming Michigan filmmaker Daniel Casey. Thursday evening’s events will be hosted by the new Enterprise team, Cin/Optic Media, which brings together video production with product development for the consumer video market. The team will make a short presentation about the Enterprise and be on hand to answer questions about its plans and prospects.

Saturday’s events begin at 1:30 p.m. with Geralyn White Dreyfous, who will talk about the business of independent film. There will be more short films at 4 p.m., including If There Were No Lutherans…Would There Still Be Green Jello?

A new film produced by Dreyfous, In a Dream, will be screened at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Northern Lights is proud to be one of the first festivals to screen this film, which was named one of the ten best films at the SXSW film festival this year. It documents the artistic and personal odyssey of Isaiah Zagar, a mosaic artist who has covered over 40,000 square feet of Philadelphia with his art.

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, the festival presents two short documentaries, Ladies of the Land, which looks at the growing number of women organic farmers, and Alces Alces Uncut, by George Desort, who will soon be releasing his film about the 50-year Isle Royale Wolf and Moose Study.

Finally, the festival will wrap up with two award-winning experimental films, Establishing Shots and Foggy Mountains Break Down More than Non-Foggy Mountains.

The McArdle Theatre is located on the second floor of the Walker Arts and Humanities building on the MTU campus, next to the Rozsa Center. The festival is sponsored by MTU's Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series and by the departments of Humanities, Visual and Performing Arts and Educational Opportunity. For festival details visit the Northern Lights Web site or contact Erin Smith at 487-3263.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Public Form on "Zoning: Protection not Restriction" to be Apr. 3 in Hancock

HANCOCK -- "Zoning: Protection not Restriction" is the topic of a Public Forum to be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Apr. 3, at Lakeview Manor Community Room, 1401Quincy, Hancock. Kurt Schindler, land use educator, will facilitate. The forum is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Houghton County Planning Commission. For more information call 482-3270.