“The 10 nominees represent a diverse mix of adventure sports and locations around the planet,” Mary Anne Potts, a National Geographic senior producer, told ESPN.com. The award has an advisory committee of about 25 people, she continued, from past winners to adventure filmmakers to the folks who hand out National Geographic expedition grants. Throughout the year, the committee keeps tabs on standout achievements before cherry-picking a master list, which gets whittled down to the top 10.
Getty ImagesBig wave surfer Ramon Navarro is working with the Chilean government and conservation groups to turn Punta de Lobos into a national park to stop encroaching development.
“It is very difficult . . . to [select] those last ten people,” Potts added. “We agonize over the decision. We want to make sure to find the best of the best, people who truly embody the spirit of adventure.”
It also doesn’t seem to hurt if an adventurer is spearheading conservation efforts. While Jones launched Protect Our Winters in 2007 to throw an additional spotlight on global warming, big-wave surfer Navarro can take credit for helping stop the construction of a pipeline that would have pumped untreated sewage into the ocean off his native Punta de Lobos, Chile. These days, he’s trying to bring conservation groups together with the Chilean government to create a national park along Punta de Lobos’ rugged coast.
“The Chilean people have been really involved in the environmental movement,” Navarro, 32, said in a National Geographic interview. “If we protect our land, take care of our country, we will have a better standard of living. … I don’t like politics. I don’t want to do it, but there aren’t many places like this in the world.”
Meanwhile, up in the Northern Hemisphere, Canadian freeskier and 2012 Winter X Mono Skier X bronze medalist Josh Dueck became the first paraplegic to land a back flip on a sit ski. The 31-year-old lost the use of his legs in 2004 after overshooting the landing on a freeski competition course in British Columbia. Within a year of the crash, he learned to sit ski. In 2010, he won a silver medal at Whistler’s Paralympics, and last year he won the the Mono Skier X gold at Winter X Games.
Fans can vote for their favorite adventurer on the National Geographic website. Online voting for the Peoples’ Choice Adventurer of the Year opened on November 1 and will run through January 16. The winner will be announced in February.