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your Best of the Chippewa Valley 2010 winners for sports and recreation

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BEST SEASON TO ENJOY THE CHIPPEWA VALLEY

1st Place: Summer
2nd Place: Fall
3rd Place: Um, all of them!

Summer this year has been, well, summer. (As opposed to summer in September and October last year. Mother nature, seriously?) There is no doubt that the Valley has taken advantage, celebrating the toasty school-free months with tubing, bike riding, cliff jumping, picnics, cookouts, swimming, tanning, Frisbee golf, outdoor music, farmers markets, and endless nameable and otherwise unnamable fun. Fall keeps on falling in second, but the riot of swirling colors, continuation of festivals, and the return of college sports keeps smiles bright. And for that third place, well, we’re just too egalitarian. Let’s root for, um, all the seasons. – KS

BEST PLACE TO GET FIT

1st Place: One Tree Martial Arts
2nd Place: The Great Outdoors
3rd Place: YMCA

Dethroning the two-year reigning champion, this year’s Best Place to Get Fit is One Tree Martial Arts. One Tree Martial Arts strives to provide its students with skills to defend themselves through traditional and modern martial arts as well as to internalize good fitness habits. In a devastating blow, the Great Outdoors is knocked down from first to second place. The Chippewa Valley has plenty to offer in terms of outdoor recreation, including the Chippewa River trails, which provide a place for running, walking, biking, and rollerblading. Numerous parks and open sports courts/fields in the area also make getting fit outside convenient. The Eau Claire YMCA takes third place for its wide variety of opportunities for members to get fit, no matter their interests. Fitness classes range from aquatic to yoga to strength resistance and are available for multiple age groups. The YMCA also sponsors programs for children, including daycare and sports teams of all kinds. – EA

BEST GOLF COURSE

1st Place: Wild Ridge Golf Club
2nd Place: Action City
3rd Place: Princeton Valley (tied)
3rd Place: Hallie (tied)
3rd Place: Hickory Hills (tied)

Wild Ridge Gold Club once again dominates this category with their challenging course. And despite V1 reporter Eric Rasmussen’s earlier rumor that Wild Ridge hires guys to hide in the bushes and squirt you right in the eye with Super Soakers, that excuse will not hold up in the bar afterwards. The course will beat you up all by itself if you don’t come out with your “A” game. For those wimps – er-golfers – who don’t want to bother with woods and irons, head to Action City’s mini golf course and rent a putter. Both seasoned golfers and beginners will find friendly accommodations, plenty of beauty, and, yes, those darn golfing challenges at all three third place winners – the north side’s Princeton Valley, Lake Hallie Golf Course (tucked in between Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls), and Hickory Hills, south of Eau Claire on Highway 93. You can find the equivalent of my children’s inheritance in the form of golf balls currently residing in the bottom of ponds or in the tall grass of some of the courses listed above. I’m talking to you – Mr. Hickory Hills, 13th hole! – RR

BEST FISHIN’ HOLE

1st Place: I’ll never tell
2nd Place: Bullfrog Fish Farm
3rd Place: Chippewa River

Secrets always win. Especially when you’re a fisherman. So tonight, those avid pole-toters will sneak out to that pond/lake/creek/stream/river and catch the mother lode, reveling in their private success. (If I knew, I’d tell.) Second place goes to Bullfrog Fish Farm, which allows kids and adults to drop a line in their stocked pond – no license required, and no catch limit. They’ll even clean your fish for you and pack it on ice for a take-home dinner, or cook it onsite. The third most popular place to fish in 2010 is the Chippewa River. Off the bridge, off the shore, or from a boat, you’ll likely snag some smallmouth bass. Walleye, muskie, northern pike, and panfish are also probable targets. – KJ

BEST SPORTS/RECREATION EVENT OF THE PAST YEAR

1st Place: Rock-n-Roll Kickball Classic
2nd Place: Express 4th of July Game
3rd Place: Eau Claire Marathon

The red rubber balls kissed the sky last May as Volume One hosted its first ever Rock-N-Roll Kickball Classic, slapping together 16 teams for two days of summer fun and local rock music. The event kicked a home run for first place (we’re real misty-eyed about this one). Second came the Express baseball game this Independence Day against the Waterloo Bucks, which was quickly followed by a phenomenal fireworks show (little did we know they’d wind up winning the whole she-bang!). The Eau Claire Marathon placed third in its sophomore year; the event saw more than 1,800 dedicated runners. – TG

BEST BOWLING ALLEY

1st Place: Wagner’s Lanes
2nd Place: Bowl-Winkles
3rd Place: The Ojibwa Golf Course

So, which is it? Wagner’s Lanes or Bowl-Winkles? The bowling alleys have been swapping first and second place since this poll’s first run. Drum roll, please! This year, Wagner’s has reclaimed the title it first won in 2008. Bowl-Winkles, the reigning champ, sits in second place. Maybe it’s the food or the rental shoe aromas, but something keeps dividing popularity between these alleys. Maybe a cutthroat game of cosmic bowling will settle the matter once and for all. The Obijwa Golf Course, with eight bowling lanes, makes its first appearance on the poll in third place. – RT

BEST PLACE TO CAMP

1st Place: Coon Fork Lake County Park
2nd Place: Brunet Island State Park
3rd Place: Lake Wissota

Everyone should have at least one good camping story in their lifetime, and here are the top three places to make those precious memories. With more than 100 camp sites, Coon Fork Lake County Park takes first place yet again. The park seems to have everything from fishing spots and nature trails to volleyball courts and beaches. Located near Cornell, Brunet Island State Park offers a more “get back to nature” approach with spots for canoeing, more fishing, and wildlife watching. Being on an island is kind of awesome, too. Lake Wissota offers a little of everything amid a more urban landscape, just in case you’re timid about venturing into the deep, scary woods. Overall, all three camp sites are amazing and offer incredible glimpses of the area. – RT

BEST PLACE FOR WATERPLAY

1st Place: Big Falls
2nd Place: Lake Wissota
3rd Place: Chippewa River

Very few attractions cater well to a diverse crowd of toddlers, college students, and people who are just looking to get away from it all – naptime being one exception. Big Falls has proven itself a great diversion for everyone, which is why you have once again voted for this natural phenomenon as the best place for waterplay in the Chippewa Valley. There are beaches, waterfalls, sandbars, and shallow pools – the only real problem being the cloud of mosquitoes one must battle through to find this haven. Lake Wissota places second, as being a popular boater’s destination and excellent place to find something to eat. This year’s heavy rains kept some tubers away from the Chippewa River, as it finishes the poll in third place. – RT

BEST HIKING/BIKING TRAIL

1st Place: Eau Claire River Route
2nd Place: Red Cedar State Trail
3rd Place: Chippewa River State Trail

According to our hiking and biking contingent, the 1.5-mile long Eau Claire River Route is deemed superior. The trail ushers you across to the north side of the river on an old railroad trestle S bridge that offers spectacular views of the quarter-mile long Banbury Place industrial complex and of course, the valley. Our second place finisher, the Red Cedar State Trail, is a packed dirt/gravel trail that connects Menomonie to Dunnville. In one spot, it spans the confluence of the Chippewa and Red Cedar Rivers (scenic overlook junkies, enjoy!). Trailing not far behind (ahem) in third place is the Chippewa River State Trail, a well-maintained route that connects Eau Claire with Caryville and parallels the river for 26 miles. – KJ

BEST BEACH

1st Place: Big Falls
2nd Place: Ray’s Beach
3rd Place: Coon Fork Lake

Between Memorial and Labor Day, Wisconsin sees its sunniest and warmest weather. With temperatures tipping the scale at mid-to-upper 90s, sometimes you just need to head to the beach to cool off. The number one beach frequented by Chippewa Vallians is Big Falls. With its beautiful nature-made landscape and ideal location, it’s the perfect summer spot for those looking to relax. If you’re looking for something a little more kid-friendly (not crawling with college kids), head to the number two spot, Ray’s Beach on man-made Lake Wissota. This beach – complete with sand, picnic tables and a designated swimming area – is the perfect place for families. If you’re not opposed to driving a little further for your fun in the sun, Cook Fork Lake, the number three choice, offers clean water, a sandy beach, volleyball nets, and play areas to keep the whole family entertained. – CP

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