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A new generation of polar explorers is emerging. Six of these young people are accompanying Will Steger on his Global Warming 101 expedition to Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic. Meet these young explorers and follow their expedition on GlobalWarming101.
Sarah McNair-Landry, Age 21, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada
No stranger to cold weather, Sarah grew up in Iqaluit from age three. Shortly after turning 17 she went on her first extended expedition, crossing the Greenland ice cap with her parents and older brother Eric. A year later she traveled to the South Pole on a 71 day kite-ski expedition with her mother and brother. In 2005 she traveled by kite-ski again joining her father and brother in setting the speed record for crossing the Greenland Ice Cap, east to west. In 2006, Sarah traveled to the North Pole on a 100-day dogsled expedition with her father and two British explorers.
Most recently, Sarah and her brother Eric returned to Greenland to cross the Ice Cap vertically by kite-ski, traveling 1429 miles/ 2300 km over the course of 2 months! When she’s not off chasing the winds across the Arctic, Sarah is busy chasing her dreams of becoming a filmmaker. After graduating from high school in Quebec, she took courses at the New York Film Academy studying digital filmmaking in New York City.
Eric McNair-Landry, Age 23, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada
Eric spent most of his childhood in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Nunavut where he was raised in a family of adventurers. Eric graduated with a degree in engineering from Acadia University and is considering continuing in architecture. In 2004 and 2005 he took a year off of school to join his family’s Kites on Ice Expedition and became the first American/Canadian to haul sleds to the South Pole without resupply.
Eric has spent his time instructing kiting, guiding sea kayaking trips, working on film projects and at the Nunavut Visitors Center. He also holds the silver in the Canadian Ski Marathon. Needless to say, Eric is passionate about kiting. When there is no wind, he spends his time teaching himself computer graphics and website design.
Sigrid Ekran, Age 26, Norway
Born in Norway, Sigrid is completing her Master of Arts degree in Northern Studies from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. She placed 20th in the 2007 Iditarod, receiving the notable awards of Rookie of the Year and Best Female Musher. In the same year she placed fourth in the Klondike 300 dogsled race. Outside of her dogsledding awards, Sigrid’s passion and inspiration comes from the Norwegian tradition of explorers. Sigrid is committed to combining a career in conservation management and dogsled mushing.
Thorleif Tobias (Toby) Thorleifsson, Age 28, Norway.
Toby finished his Master of Arts degree in polar history and politics at Simon Fraser University in the fall of 2006. He has since worked as a writer, lecturer and mountain guide focusing on environmental issues. In February 2007 he assisted with the opening Antarctica’s first education base. Toby has circumnavigated most of the North Atlantic by sailboat and last summer he sailed to Franz Josef Land in the Russian Arctic. When Toby is not traveling he splits his time between the city of Oslo and Finse in the Norwegian mountains.
Ben Horton, Age 24, United States
Recipient of the National Geographic Society’s first Young Explorer award for research he recently completed on Cocos Island involving shark poachers, Ben is a budding photographer and adventurer. Ben is motivated by travel and extreme sports with a yearning to make a difference for his generation. At 17, he traveled around the world with his brother, visiting numerous countries and living the adventures he and his brother had dreamed of. Ben splits his time between Colorado and the rest of the world.
Sam Branson – Age 21, Great Britain
Sam and his father, Sir Richard Branson, joined Will Steger on the Global Warming 101 Baffin Island Expedition from Clyde River to Iglulik. Sam took to dogsledding and Arctic travel like a seasoned adventurer. Sam grew up in both England and the Caribbean and has a great respect for nature and all the elements within it. After school he trained as a chef at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and then went on to do a year’s diploma in music. His love for extreme sports began when he was young, and one of his favorite things to do is surf.