Meet the Ice Road Truckers
Returning to the icy backwaters of Alaska and Canada for the eighth season of Ice Road Truckers, let's meet the guys, and gal, that risk life and limb transporting cargo in seemingly impossible conditions.
You need to be a special sort of person to drive hundreds of miles on ice in freezing temperatures, take Hugh Rowland, an ice trucking veteran and familiar face to fans of the show.
Over the years his profession has claimed the lives of friends, his brother-in-law, but he still loves what he does. A big, tough guy with a colourful turn of phrase, Rowland is still driving after 30 years, not that he has to, he's the boss of VP Express, one of two haulage companies that operate in the region.
The other company, Polar, is run by Mark Kohaykewych. There is no love lost between Kohaykewych and Rowland and the two compete fiercely for business, both will poach the others driver without a second thought.
At 58 Alex Debogorski may be the most competent trucker on the circuit but at the end of last season, while working for Polar, experience didn't stop him from crashing his rig. Recently he's been working with Rowland for VP Express.
Conversely, Todd Dewey now works for Polar after Kohaykewych stole him away from VP. Relatively wet behind the ears Dewey is aggressive with a high opinion of himself but no one can hear you out there on those long, icy roads. Getting the job done is all that matters.
Another ex VP driver is Art Burke. Burke is a rather complex character, for a start he's incomprehensible to the point he needs subtitles but he also appears a little troubled. Perhaps all those years of driving over thin ice have taken their toll. Hardly surprising when you're at permanent risk of the elements, temperatures can plummet as low as -50, so cold that chains and leaf springs can snap like twigs. You're out there, hundreds of miles from nowhere, driving an 18 wheeler rig over frozen lakes with 80,000 pound loads. One mistake and the game's over.
Burke works with Darrell Ward who, like his colleague, has a faraway looks in his eyes but he's lucid, confident that he's the best ice trucker that there is. With 31 years' experience Ward has an almost laid back attitude to his work, it must have stood him in good stead though, he's still trucking at 50 and loving every minute of it.
Completely shattering the impression that all Ice Road Truckers are rugged blokes with a hair-trigger temper is Lisa Kelly who looks as if she's walked off the set of Jersey Shore. Another employee of Polar, she's the only girl in the show since the brief appearance of Maya Sieber in season five. On the surface she's petit and demure belying a passion for the adventures that lie hidden in the frozen landscape. She may not be as physically capable as some of the bigger guys but she's just as enthusiastic.
As the competition between Polar and VP Express hots up, the truckers are going to have to dig deep to deal with increasingly challenging environments, both in and out the rig. Season eight looks set to be a thrilling ride into the unknown.