The grueling terrain and weather conditions in National Geographic Channel’s Ultimate Survival Alaska continue to challenge Team Military in the series’ third season. Fans are gunning for Team Military to grab a leg victory; support that’s not lost on teammates Jared Ogden, a former Navy Seal; Daniel Dean, a former Marine Scout sniper; and Grady Powell, a former Green Beret and survival instructor.
“We have a lot on our shoulders. We’re representing ourselves, we’re representing the military, but we’re also representing America, as a whole,” Grady told us at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena last week. “Anyone who does not have a specific team, they love to take care of us and jump on the Military Team. We know we have a lot to prove this season.”
With just 2 of the 13 lags completed, which were both won by team Endurance — Dallas Seavey (two-time Iditarod Champion), Lel Tone and Ben Johns — there’s still a lot left in this race. [Episode 3, Ultimate Survival Alaska: Water Torture premieres on National Geographic Channel Sunday, Jan. 18 at 9pmET. The series airs every Sunday at 9pm through March.]
The competition is relentless for all 12 of these highly skilled survivalists, each of them holding their own unique talents. Team Military certainly has a solid mindset and training, which had led to several close finishes.
“Being a Green Beret — going through that training and doing this kind of stuff — is a whole lot of mindset. With survival, survival is not so much the skillset of, ‘Oh I can make a fire, I can fish or whatever,’ it’s the mindset of ‘I’m going to make it out. I’m going to survive,’” Grady shares. “Along with that the military — being a Green Beret — our job was to win the hearts and minds of people and help them get to a point that they can fight their own wars. Working in a team environment with Jared and Daniel, if there was a clash in our team there’s a very systematic way to dissolve issues where we all get to a common goal and to work together.”
Grady wasn’t giving any spoilers but did give a tease when asked about the Military Team’s hardest lag in Season 3.
“Every lag we had was multifaceted so there were all types of things going on, but I can tell you about one, which was hands-down the most exciting, terrifying that we had for our team,” Grady says. “We were in the Kodiac Islands fishing for salmon to supplement our diets and we look over, and I’m not even kidding, about 20 feet away there was a giant Kodiac bear — a sow and two cubs.
“With a female bear and two cubs you do not want to be in that situation, especially when you got a pile of food right in front of you. She just starts barreling straight toward us through the water, and I can’t thing of anything to do but just throw the salmon straight at her and that distracted her for a little bit and she took the salmon and took it her cubs, so we gathered up what we had, got on the trail and started getting out of the way.”
Keep in mind traveling with each team is also their camera man and a producer. The team enjoyed about a five minute reprieve when one of the producers alerts them to the fact that the bear is back and it comes hauling right at them. “We ran down the hill as fast as possible and ended up back in the river and we got channeled into a space where the only option for us was to jump off of a waterfall. It was absolutely terrifying in the moment. You kind of blackout — it was like being back in the military when you’re in a very dangerous situation, you revert back into our training. The only thing we could do was jump. So we jump off of this waterfall not knowing if we were going to die at the bottom of what but we knew if we stayed up on the top we would be dead. NO question about that. So we all jump off, it took me about three days to realize how dangerous of a situation that was. We got pretty lucky.”
OK, if you’re like me you’re thinking — so what happened to the camera guy? Grady says he waited for everyone to jump off the cliff to get the shot and then he followed. Now that’s dedication.
Images: Credit: National Geographic Channel