Inuvik run of Ice Road Truckers attracts U.S. fans to Arctic roads
The latest season of the hit U.S. television show Ice Road Truckers has hundreds of American viewers eager to pack their bags and haul their rigs to Inuvik, N.W.T., where this season's episodes were shot.
Since debuting in 2007, the U.S.-based History Channel series has been chronicling truck drivers hauling big industrial loads on the fragile winter ice roads of the Northwest Territories.
The second season of Ice Road Truckers, which is currently airing in the U.S., follows eight truck drivers as they drive on the Mackenzie River Ice Road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.
The popularity of the show — it brought in 3.4 million viewers in the United States in its first season — has led to hundreds of calls and e-mails at Matco Transportation in Inuvik.
Many people who call want hats, t-shirts and other merchandise emblazoned with Matco's logo, branch manager Jordan Fedosoff told CBC News.
Fedosoff said his inbox has also been full of e-mails from Americans who dream of living a life of excitement on the ice road.
He read one e-mail he received recently: "I'm a female truck driver, currently working for FedEx. The route is extremely predictable and it's boring. Thus, I'm looking for an adventure."
That desire to escape the ordinary 9-to-5 routine is what has made Ice Road Truckers popular, executive producer Dolores Gavin said.
"The whole idea that it's so unpredictable, you never know what's going to happen, you really are battling the elements ... I think that's something that really, really responded well with Ice Road Truckers," Gavin said.
While Gavin said Ice Road Truckers attempts to give a realistic portrayal of an Arctic trucker's life, Fedosoff said the program overhypes the dangers of driving on an ice road.
"It's definitely not realistic. Always talking about how the drivers are going to go through the ice," he said.
"Let's be realistic: that's Hollywood. Take it with a grain of salt."
The show's first season, in which six drivers braved the Contwoyto ice road from Yellowknife to the territory's diamond mines, made big stars out of truckers like Yellowknife native Alex Debogorski, whose hearty laugh is recognizable among fans.
Ice Road Truckers can only be seen in the United States, but plans are underway to air it in Canada later this year.
In the meantime, Canadian viewers — including those living in the Northwest Territories — can buy or rent DVDs of the show's first and second seasons.