Ever watch a competition reality series and wonder, “What did these people have to go through to get on this show?” With the upcoming USA Network series “Race to Survive: Alaska,” which premieres on Monday, April 3 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on USA Network, the elite eight teams of two had to go through a lot of training and testing to be up to the standards of the grueling series.
The premise of the series is to pit eight teams of highly skilled adventure racers against one another for 40 days of surviving the wilds of Alaska. They’ll have to endure six races — each featuring bespoke Adventure Challenges — and if they’re the last team to reach the finish line of that leg, they’ll be eliminated.
Because “Race to Survive: Alaska” is both a race and survivalist competition series, co-executive producer Alan Bishop told USA Insider that they needed to cast a variety of athletes who could complete a range of outdoor skills — from rappelling to rock climbing, kayaking to orienteering, and a little bit everything in between.
Bishop said that the production team initially whittled down the main group of potential contestants who fit their abilities standards into a pool of 14 teams. “We did a pre-boot camp in Leavenworth, Washington, in March of last year,” Bishop said. “We ran them through a skills-based training. There was no right or wrong, or anything. It was just what skills do they have?”
They were then ranked on a scale of one to five based on proficiency of all the basic skills.
“Once we had that ranking, we could then go back to the network and say, ‘Here’s where they all ranked. Who do you like?’ They made their decisions based on what they wanted for TV, what they wanted for capacity, and what they wanted for the show,” he said.
From there, the final eight teams were chosen and then run through a more formal boot camp in Ketchikan, Alaska, specifically tailored to the needs of the series.
“We just wanted to make sure that anything that we had planned for the course, anything, at least every single cast member had a basic level of competency,” Bishop explained. “If we had a cast member that had never jumared up a mountain, we would give them the basic competency that they would need to effectively do that challenge. Because we didn’t want to have anybody in the cast who had never done something before. It’s not a challenge if someone is like, ‘We’re here. We don’t know what to do. We’re out of the race!'”