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Hockey gold medallists set out on historic North Pole trek

Hockey gold medallists set out on historic North Pole trek

By Callum Ng

Only two months after their riveting gold medal comeback, two members of the national women’s hockey team have begun another daunting challenge.

Sochi captain Caroline Ouellette and backup goalie Geneviève Lacasse are trekking to the Magnetic North Pole. Yes, the North Pole.

According to True Patriot Love, the organizing charity, 53 Olympians, business leaders, injured soldiers and guides add-up to be the largest such expedition in history. The attempt involves roughly two-weeks of cross-country skiing, in brutally cold temperatures and almost 24-hour daylight. And it’s all to raise awareness for the many challenges Canadian soldiers face, including operational stress injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

tundra

It’s not easy to get that far north. The group flew from Ottawa to Iqaluit on Saturday, and after a stopover, landed in Resolute (Bay) later in the day. With Ouellette and Lacasse in the group, the handful of acclimatization days before pointing their skis north involved a little hockey. In between short outings to get used to the thinner air and ski set-up, they also fit in a presentation to some local youth and a community hockey game.

One of the kids on the bench told me that it was the most amount of people he’d ever seen in the arena. Caro and I loved talking to some of the kids about their love of hockey and their future plans,” commented Lacasse on the expedition’s blog. 

hockey_game_resolute

With ceremony set aside, the trek will turn its focus to the Magnetic North Pole. After acclimatization completes, the group will fly to within 100 kms of their destination and begin. It’s the frozen north and no place to mess around. The group will have to stay dry and stick together to guard against confrontations with roaming polar bears. Despite having three days beforehand, there are also concerns about altitude-related issues. Not to mention its about the most hard-core camping you can imagine. Apparently spiking a tent on frozen earth isn’t particularly easy.

The team has a Google Trekker to collect photographs for the search engine, plus a documentary film team and a few journalists to cover the journey. The group will be checking-in every few days via satellite phone.

Photos courtesy: True Patriot Love’s Facebook page

By Callum Ng

Senior Writer/Producer for Olympic.ca: I tell sport stories. I also like songs and dim sum. Liable to be found rink side, track side, pool side, any side.

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