Our town had a taste of the Olympics this weekend. We hosted the World Championship of Ice Fishing and the elite ice fishermen from eleven countries competed for the the title of World Champion for 2010 - no prize money involved - just the honor for their country. Each country's team had five or six anglers, a coach and a manager. The countries were Iceland, Latvia, Finland, Sweden, Russia , Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Canada, U.S.A., Lithuania and Estonia. We've had about a two week warm spell so the snow has left our landscape very early this year but the frozen lakes are still solid and they had to drill through twenty six inches of ice. Our citizenry and businesses excitedly welcomed our brethren from the foriegn lands and Bing and I and the three Rhinelander grandchildren participated in the Parade of Nations held Friday night. Thousands turned out to cheer the teams, even two of the racing sausages from the Milwaukee Brewers showed up. Very specially outfitted ice fishing shanties paraded along hoping to gather votes for the shanty contest. The teams marched along, each accompanied by children from various scout troops and schools and Courtney and Alexa's school had the honor of accompanying the U.S.A. float and team......This was a really well run tourney - no electronic help such as fish locators or underwater cameras, no power augurs, no motorized transportation.
Only panfish count in the weigh in and all fish caught were donated to local food pantries......Our fishermen were surprised at the equipment used by the foreign teams and they were surprised at the size of our panfish. The fish they catch at home run three or four inches and here ours run to about 15 inches for some crappies. Their poles are only as big as a flimsy pencil and they don't
have reels - they pull the line in by hand. Their augurs are razor sharp and honed often. Our team had to practice hand auguring because usually power augurs are used around here. A team from the U.S.A. competed in Poland last year and came in last. They're hoping to do much better here on home ice......Our local papers interviewed the fishermen who could speak English and it was so beautiful to read their remarks about actually being here in America versus their perceptions of America from afar. One man from Russia said, "I see the feelings of everyone here. Very good people, and we learn a lot on the ice and on this trip. We will take many good memories home." We read and we know that we are brothers and sisters of everyone populating this vast planet of ours and it was so good to share the joy and meet some of those faraway siblings. We laughed and sang and clapped with them and we love them.