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The skiing wounded

Injured Danish veterans head to Greenland for the chance to heal themselves
Full of vim (Photo: Veterans in Motion)

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Taking up the Arctic Challenge
Videos from Veterans in Motion

A journey of thousands of strokes begins on Danish asphalt

First time on snow

Participating in the 2015 Vasa ski race

In a way, the 17 participants of the Arctic Challenge will have to deal with all of the same challenges as any other 400km ski expedition along Greenland’s eastern coast: polar bears, frigid temperatures, difficult terrain and heavy loads.

For nine of the participants, all of them veterans of the Danish military, there will be additional loads to bear during the month-long trek: some lost limbs or suffered other debilitating injuries in combat. Some grapple with post-traumatic stress disorder.

After two years of preparation (see videos at right) that included a selection process earlier this year, their journey heads into its final phase today, when they arrive in Greenland to begin the trip that will take them from Mestersvig to Daneborg, two Danish military installations.

SEE pictures of the participants during training

The expedition is organised by Veterans in Motion, a Danish charity established in 2014 to help physically and mentally disabled veterans prove to themselves and to others that their injuries need not prevent them from finding success in the civilian world.

“This is a huge journey and a huge step in my personal development: from being injured and feeling like you can’t do anything, to – if all goes well – completing 30 day expedition. If we succeed, I’ll be able to do anything when I get home,” Christian Alexander Lanz, who suffered a spinal injury after being shot by a sniper in Afghanistan, told Danish media.

The beginning of the end (Google Maps)

In addition to the injured veterans, the group also includes a former member of Denmark’s Sirius Patrol, an Arctic special-forces unit, and veterans now working as a doctor, physiotherapist, prosthetic specialist and others who will be able to provide physical and mental assistance during the trip.

Most of the participants served in Afghanistan, many for multiple tours. Others were stationed in Iraq, Kosovo and Somalia. Completing this tour will make them veterans of Greenland.