After getting a jump on this new season of crazy with the Discovery Channel, Bering Sea Gold fans are more curious than ever about the dredgers, especially the fleet’s only female dredger and resident opera singer, Emily Riedel. Recently, Emily was generous enough to take some time out of her busy schedule in Austria—when she isn’t dredging, she’s studying opera—and answer a few questions for Huliq readers.
[Mechele R. Dillard] Viewers have “gold fever” right now. But, what does BERING SEA GOLD offer viewers that the other popular “gold shows” out there right now do not?
[Emily Riedel] I can’t really say I’m too familiar with any other gold shows that are playing right now, but I assume that viewers favor our show because they can see the insane risk inherent in what we do, and the drastic measures we take to find gold. We’re not working with shovels or land based heavy equipment. We’re under ice, or working on a volatile sea, and operating powerful engines to make money. That’s not something you will see in other gold shows.
Your relationship with Zeke is tenuous, at best; is all of the tension and drama worth the end results? In other words, why keep going back for more?
I often ask myself the same question. I trust Zeke, and that’s important in a world where most miners are deceptive and would love to see you fail. For a time, I had hoped Zeke and I could overcome our relationship problems and become friends and partners. Instead, they became much worse. My work in Nome doesn’t necessarily need to revolve around Zeke, however. It might be time for a change.
You were able to study opera in Austria due to your participation in BERING SEA GOLD. But, do you see a time when you will leave diving for good and make a living pursuing opera?
I had always intended my diving for gold to be the stepping stone into my operatic career. I had hoped that it would provide for me financially and help me in my studies. I have to confess that my love of gold dredging has become a conflict of interest with opera, and now I’m working hard to include both in my life as much as I possibly can, but the two careers cannot live side by side forever.
As an artist, are you able to somehow use your experiences diving to enhance your performance talents?
Yes. My experience diving in the Bering Sea has very much opened up my ability to handle insanity, and insanity is inherent to the life of an artist. After working as a gold dredger in Nome, all of regular life’s challenges seem mundane.
Do the cameras and filming add pressures to the dives? How aware of them are you as you go down under the water?
Although the divers that shoot with us always try and be as considerate as possible, I’m always highly aware of their presence with us in the water, especially after a few very traumatic incidences I had in the water this last summer. I don’t notice the cameras very much out of the water, but when it’s just you, a hose, and a freaky looking diver with a huge camera, it’s hard to ignore them. Especially when they sneak up on you.
You’ve now done regular gold diving and the winter diving “Under the Ice;” any preference for one over the other? Describe some of the differences and similarities for viewers, and compare them danger-wise.
Although both are dangerous, ice dredging is infinitely more so. I’m astonished that all of us finished the ice season alive. Especially some of the divers on the Pomrenke’s crew...
The combination of five feet of ice, one way out, and unpredictable equipment made it so every venture under the ice was tempting fate. You had to be at peace with the fact that things could go fatally wrong. In that sense, I prefer summer mining; although the weather controls the hours your work, you spend a lot less time contemplating your mortality!
Who is harder to work with: your dad or Zeke? What are some of the challenges of working with each?
I would have to take Zeke over my dad. I love my father dearly, but as far as mining with him goes... It’s a far too stressful profession to deal with a creative, unpredictable character like Steve Riedel. It’s best for the gold if we don’t work together. Zeke is slightly easier to work with, but often he lets his maniacal pursuit of gold get in the way of life and logic.
Now that you have had the opportunity to participate in diving for gold, would you ever consider diving with a different team, or, given your long-time friendship/on-off relationship with Zeke, is it something you are only comfortable doing with The Edge crew?
Being a part of another operation is something that I am very much considering. Although Zeke is a talented gold dredger, I am uncertain as to whether staying with him is profitable, both monetarily and emotionally. There’s a lot that happened this last summer season that put our friendship to the test, and it might finally be broken completely.
Are there other women in your vicinity who are diving, as well? And, do you think being the only female on your particular crew makes any difference, or are you just another diver out there, as far as the rest of the team is concerned?
I heard about a few other women working on dredges this summer, but I’m not sure about divers. I’m not going to say my crew forgets that I’m a woman, because they give me grief for it constantly. But it doesn’t really affect my work as a gold dredger. In Nome, you might be certifiably insane, female, or a convict, but it doesn’t matter as long as you get your work done.
Is there anything you would like to add for fans of BERING SEA GOLD?
What’s going to happen in season two of Bering Sea Gold will portray what was the most intense and challenging time of my life, and inevitably, fans of Bering Sea Gold will experience a lot of the intensity, drama, and grief we all went through. I want to thank them ahead of time for their love, understanding and support.
And, thanks again to Emily Riedel for taking the time to answer these questions for Huliq readers. Bering Sea Gold, Season Two, airs on Friday nights on the Discovery Channel at 10/9c.
Image: Discovery Channel