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Ice Fishing in a Parking Lot?
On-Ice Olympic Trials Teaming up with Mills Stores
The On-Ice Youth Olympic Trials are designed to introduce young anglers to the sport of ice fishing while also preparing them for the third annual On-Ice Olympics that will be contested in conjunction with the Jan. 17 Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake.
"Our whole mission with the Olympics is to inspire interest in the sport from a youth aspect," said Chip Leer, co-founder of Fishing the WildSide, an educational and promotional company based in Walker. "We want to encourage families and kids to get out on the ice and participate in this sport.
"Ice fishing is more than sitting outside attempting to catch fish. It can be a family event with participation on many levels from grilling food to playing football on the ice and catching a few fish."
Leer and Tommy Skarlis, Fishing the WildSide's other co-founder, have designed the Trials to simulate the actual hard-water experience.
"With a little snow in the parking lot, we believe we can transport people from the asphalt into the world of ice fishing," said Leer.
To that end, Fishing the WildSide will set up a 45-foot trailer and a large, heated tent that will allow the Trials to take place regardless of weather.
"It's kind of like a giant ice fishing shelter," said Leer.
Inside, participants can try their hand at a number of events similar to those that make up the actual On-Ice Olympics at the Brainerd Jaycees contest, which is billed as the largest ice fishing event in the world.
"The real On-Ice Olympics have become quite an event," said Leer. "We present gold, silver and bronze Olympic Medals to the top three finishers in four age categories, plus we have more than $5,000 in prizes courtesy of StrikeMaster, Otter Outdoors, Coleman, Berkley, Lindy Legendary Tackle, Northland Fishing Tackle and Beckman."
Skarlis said the Trials are a modified version of the actual On-Ice Youth Olympics.
"It's not a qualifying event," he noted. "Anybody can come compete at the awesome Youth Olympics in Brainerd. This provides an idea what's in store there."
Contestants will be required to successfully accomplish a number of simulated tasks, including drilling ice fishing holes with a hand auger, cooking on a Coleman grill and catching artificial fish. To complete the course, anglers are required to stow all their gear in an Otter Outdoors sled and drag it across the finish line.
"There's a lot more, but I don't want to ruin any of the excitement," said Skarlis. "People are just going to have to stop out and see it for themselves."
Everyone who attempts the Trials course is also eligible to win a weekend for four at the Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza, an event designed to raise money for various charities.
It shouldn't be difficult to find Fishing the WildSide's On-Ice Youth Olympic Trials.
"Just look for the trailer and the tent," said Leer. "And if anybody is confused, they can look for that Olympic flame that will be lit outside the trailer. In the spirit of the On-Ice Youth Olympics, that flame is provided by a Coleman North Star lantern."
For more information on the Trials, the Brainerd Jaycees contest or the actual Youth Olympics, visit www.onicetour.com or www.fishingthewildside.com.
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