Press Release

Press Release
March 2nd, 2008
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
390 Mile Snowkiting Expedition to Raise Wind Energy Awareness Complete


Mortenson Construction, Northern Great Plains Inc. and YogaSlackers announce the completion of the 2008 To Cross the Moon (2XtM) snowkiting expedition across North Dakota. On February 11th, three extreme athletes set out to snowkite nearly 400 miles from Crosby, N.D. down to Keldron, S.D. and on Thursday they accomplished that goal!

In addition to the kiters’ epic journey, a community outreach crew visited over 30 communities throughout the state speaking to over 7,000 people.  “We came with a hopeful message connecting the exciting wind-powered sport of snowkiting with North Dakota’s incredible wind energy potential and the role it can play in mitigating climate change,” said education crew member Jason Schaefer.

While the kiters stayed outside braving the elements, the education crew relied on the generosity of North Dakotans staying in homes, farms, even gymnasiums.  “Wow!  I just moved here from Michigan.  I still cannot believe the amazing hospitality offered to us all across North Dakota.  We could not have done this without the incredible outpouring of kindness,” according the education crewmember, Chelsea Hummon.

Now that the expedition is complete, the next step is a documentary film.  A professional videographer and three professional photographers captured action as the kiters and the education crew crossed the state.  The crew envisions a documentary film to be released and a tour in conjunction with the film.  The film will be submitted to festivals such as the prestigious Banff festival as well as to outdoor networks such as Discovery and National Geographic.

The media crew had plenty of adventures to capture.  The kiters started their journey in northwest North Dakota camped out in 20 below zero temperatures.  A week into the adventure, expedition leader Sam Salwei, dislocated his shoulder while getting onto his snowboard in the middle of Lake Sakakawea.  A long and arduous rescue effort ensued.  Sam was able to rejoin the expedition a week later.  By then, the weather had warmed considerably causing much of the snow to disappear and the top layer of ice on their river route turning to slush forcing the athletes to switch their skis and snowboards for a mountain board (think skateboard with big wheels) and two buggies.  The buggies look like trikes with big wheels.  The athletes steered the buggies with their feet while holding the kite in their hands.  The buggies did not have brakes or seatbelts.  Nonetheless, the buggies did allow the athletes to complete the first trans-state crossing via kite in history.

"What do we do now?" asked Jason Magness, one of the kiters. "We've spent the last nineteen days trying to eat enough, and worrying about freezing to death or blowing away."

"Yeah," agreed expedition leader, Sam Salwei, "We spent the last three weeks worrying about not dying, and now as we go back into society, we have to worry about not living."

The expeditioners should have no trouble staying busy.  They will be traveling all across the country doing adventure races and yoga slacklining.  They are also participating in a race in Costa Rica this year.  Not forgetting their roots, the team plans on organizing another adventure race in Grand Forks this year.

The 2XtM education crew will also be busy as offers to speak continue to roll in.  The crew expects to continue doing educational presentations and invites interested groups to contact them.  Their next big event is a concert at UND on March 14th featuring local musicians and footage from the expedition. 

To continue raising awareness for the need for more wind energy, 2XtM has created a windsock program where recycled snowkites are cut up and turned into material for windsocks.  The windsocks can be hung from homes, businesses, even cars as a way of showing support for wind energy.  “We envision 2XtM windsocks becoming synonymous with support for wind energy much like the Lance Armstrong bracelets are for surviving cancer,” noted 2XtM education crew member, Kathryn Joyce.  Groups and individuals can order the free windsock kits by sending an email to 2XtMwindsock@gmail.com.

Perhaps the greatest thing the athletes have been able to accomplish is to show people around the country another side of North Dakota.  A reporter from Outside Magazine, a competitor to National Geographic with a circulation over two million, came to North Dakota to cover the expedition for a week.  National Geographic adventure is also exploring a story about the expedition.  “We want to instill pride in North Dakota while showing there are many wonderful people doing creative things in our state,” exclaimed Salwei.

In an effort to practice what they preach while lessening their contribution to global warming, all the pollution generated during the crew’s travels is offset by renewable energy investments thanks to a partnership with 3 Degrees Energy, a leading company offering renewable energy credits.

Updated blog entries, photos and videos of the expedition can be found at 2XtM.com

A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NORTH DAKOTA ATHLETES SNOWKITE ACROSS STATE TO PROMOTE WIND ENERGY
Environmental stewardship meets extreme athleticism on the windy Great Plains


Grand Forks, ND – Feb. 4, 2008
– To promote the wind energy potential of North Dakota, Northern Great Plains Inc., YogaSlackers and Mortenson Construction announce the 2008 To Cross the Moon Expedition (2XtM). In 21 days, 3 extreme athletes will snowkite more than 390 miles across North Dakota’s moon-like landscape. The expedition kicks off at the Canadian border near Crosby, N.D. on Feb. 11 and ends with community celebrations in Fargo and Grand Forks Feb. 29 – March 3.

The expedition will be completely self-supported with three athletes hauling all food, equipment and supplies needed to survive the extreme weather conditions where temperatures can reach 40 degrees below zero and wind-chills as low as 100 degrees below zero.

“It will be an extreme challenge,” says expedition leader Sam Salwei, “but our goal is to make North Dakota the ‘state of extremes’ by demonstrating the state’s wind energy potential in a tangible way.”

North Dakota has been called the “Saudi Arabia of Wind.” The U.S. Department of Energy ranks North Dakota the number one state in wind energy potential. Theoretically speaking, North Dakota alone is capable of producing enough wind-generated power to meet more than one-fourth of the U.S. electricity demand, according to DOE estimates.

But despite this potential, North Dakota fell from 13th place in wind energy production in 2004 to 15th place in 2007. Currently, the state only has 344 megawatts of power online, which correlates to only 3/10th of 1 percent of its potential.

“The U.S. is blessed with a vast wind resource that is just waiting to be tapped,” said Randall Swisher, Executive Director of the American Wind Energy Association. “North Dakota could rapidly become a hub of wind power generation, powering a cleaner, stronger America.”

The environmental benefits of wind-generated electricity are increasingly recognized by those who favor "green" power because there are no harmful emissions or climate changing byproducts.

One of the 2XtM’s sponsors, Mortenson Construction, is the leading wind power contractor in North America.

“Since entering the wind market in 1995 we have constructed over 30 percent of the wind energy capacity in the U.S. to date, and are currently completing over 90 MW’s in North Dakota” said Tom Wacker, senior vice president of Mortenson’s Energy Group. “As a company we are committed to environmental stewardship and would like to see North Dakota tap into its enormous wind energy potential.”

In addition to the environmental advantages, the development of large-scale wind installations in North Dakota would create new industry and bring new jobs to the state. Landowners and local communities would experience a positive economic impact as well.

"Currently, only a small portion of the wind being developed in North Dakota has local ownership," said Melissa Peterson, Program Associate for the community wind advocacy group Windustry. "By teaming up with 2XtM and raising public awareness of the tremendous local benefits of community wind energy, we hope to turn this trend around."

“Landowners benefit through leasing of wind rights and schools benefit from increased tax revenues,” said 2XtM’s education coordinator Jason Schaefer. “It's a win-win all around and we need to show that to the world."

Accompanying the athletes on the traverse, the 2XtM community outreach crew will roughly follow the expedition route and give educational presentations to increase awareness of wind energy and climate change in local schools and at community forums. The crew will also hold free snowkiting demonstration clinics where participants will be able to “hold the wind in their hands.” For a complete list of educational presentations and free demo clinics visit www.2XtM.com.

Although 2XtM’s main goal is to raise awareness for the potential of wind power in North Dakota. The athletes — Sam Salwei and Jason Magness, both from Grand Forks, N.D. along with Paul Cassedy from San Diego, Calif. — also hope to bring positive national attention to North Dakota’s assets, including its wide open spaces and opportunities for recreation.

"The trek across North Dakota that Sam and Jason have put together is an example of the exciting recreational opportunities our state offers,” said U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan. “But even more importantly, it's bringing attention to an important issue – the development of our wind energy resource."

More information can be found at www.2XtM.com. When the expedition commences, the website will provide global positioning system (GPS) tracking of the athletes’ progress as well as educational resources including a feature called, “ask an expert,” where visitors can submit questions to experts in the fields of snowkiting, wind energy and climate change.

About Northern Great Plains, Inc.

Northern Great Plains Inc. is a not-for-profit research, demonstration and convening organization. NGP Inc. focuses its work on futures study, creating economic opportunity, and supporting a healthy environment and vital communities.

About YogaSlackers
Team YogaSlackers are a small group of elite ultra-endurance adventurers, master yoga teachers, and stewards of the environment. Through adventure racing, yoga instruction, slacklining (tight-rope walking), remote climbing, packrafting and snowkiting expeditions, team members strive to live by the principles of environmental sustainability. Team YogaSlackers is committed to eco-conscious education, renewable energy promotion, and partnering only with companies who truly share the ideals of positive global change.

About Mortenson Construction
Founded in 1954, Mortenson Construction is a U.S.-based, family-owned construction company. As one of the nation's top builders, and the leading wind power contractor in North America, Mortenson provides a complete range of services, including planning, program management, preconstruction, general contracting, construction management, design-build, and turn-key development. Mortenson has offices in Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Seattle with international operations in Canada and China. Engineering News-Record ranked Mortenson 12 in power in the 2007 Top 400 Contractors listing, all of which is renewable power, and named the company the 17th Top Green Contractor. For more information, please visit mortenson.com.

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