By Chris Cocoles
I really enjoyed my conversation with Emily Riedel, one of the stars of the Discovery Channel’s reality series about Alaska gold dredging in Nome, Bering Sea Gold. One of my friends who’s a regular watcher of the show bemoaned Emily as one of the show’s emotionally melodramatic villains. But I found her friendly, honest, engaging and forthcoming during our chat, which is running in the February Alaska Sporting Journal.
Here’s a sneak preview:
Riedel, 25, is one of the star’s of the hit show. She’s not only the female in her group that doesn’t consider being called gold diggers a putdown. Riedel is also now captaining her own dredge, the EROICA, a name that befits her diverse lifestyle that includes an aspiring career as an opera singer (she’s really good; check out a performance on YouTube).
“It’s the name of Beethoven’s Third Symphony that he dedicated to Napoleon,” Riedel tells her new crew on a recent episode. Imagine any male skippers citing Austrian composer Ludwig Van Beethoven himself as the inspiration for naming their boat! But this is reality TV, so there’s always drama, subplots and backstories getting in the way. Riedel took a stormy ride on her relationship roller coaster with Ezekiel “Zeke” Tenhoff, her childhood friend from Homer and fellow gold dredger (their romance and partnership working on the same dredge went kaput and seems unrepairable).
But Riedel has moved on to pilot the EROICA (bought with her own money) as the show’s third season sails on. Her dad-turned-dredger, Steve, is around, and Emily seems more determined than ever to strike it big in her home state as she puts singing on hold.
“How I’d always approach Nome is I’d always think I’d have this bulging mountain to climb. But you have to change your attitude,” Riedel says. “You can’t change anything else. Because it’s going to be hard on your mind and your body. I know I’m able to scream and cry and get very angry at times, and lose hope at times.
“But I know I’ve been through worse. I’ll go through worse again. And I can navigate this. You just try and make strides toward success.”