King of the ice road
Ice breakers: Debogorski quotes from ‘Ice Road Truckers’
“For me to piss [for a drug test] – I’m so old now I gotta have half a Viagra.”
“You know what the good thing is about this weather? You can see your breath, that way you know your still breathing.”
“Everybody should get up in the morning and say a prayer, you know, for the day, for protection and guidance, and to give thanks for this day. You know, people call me a hypocrite. I say well, I’m not a very good example of Christianity but I’m a much-improved version of what I once was.”
“They must have trucks in heaven ’cause I’m sure my guardian angel is a driver, eh. He sure does a good job of looking after me.’
Midway through the History Channel’s sixth season of “Ice Road Truckers,” Alex Debogorski has just finished crossing a frozen lake where one mistake can endanger his truck, even his life. With his window down, he listens to the language of the cracking ice before deciding it is safe to continue.
“When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a superhero and save people from bad things,” he says. “Throughout my life, I’ve had the opportunity to be a real hero and I’ve had the opportunity to be a real ass, and I’ve taken that one, too!” Then he fills the cab with a booming laugh.
Debogorski’s also taken with relish the opportunity to become a real celebrity. As an original cast member of the hugely popular reality series, he’s garnered fame and a truckload of opportunities that come with it.
A natural storyteller, Debogorski, 59, recounts his life’s journey in his book, “King of the Road: True Tales from a Legendary Ice Road Trucker.” The stories are of a big, burly, brawling man who says his hair-raising, death-defying antics made him the man he is today.
“Nighttime is when truckers get talkative,” he writes. “It’s lonely out here. Guys get on the radio and start telling each other stories. They’re like little kids in a bunkhouse after the adults have put out the lights. Everybody is keeping each other company. I’m one of the most devoted storytellers on the ice road, and I’ll keep the other truckers entertained for hours.”
After growing up on an Alberta farm, he worked as club bouncer, coal miner, taxi driver, oil rigger, gold and diamond prospector. In 1972, he was 19, married with a baby and working at a tire shop in Grande Cache, Alberta, when a customer asked if he’d be interested in driving a truck for the McIntyre Porcupine Coal Mine. He figured, “Why not?”
In 1976, he relocated to Yellowknife in far northern Canada with his wife, Louise, and their expanding family, where he signed on to truck the ice roads. He’s since hauled freight to some of the world’s most remote, frigid areas.
In the off-season he runs a topsoil business, prospects for gold and diamonds, and fixes old cars. If he’s not working, he’s often telling tales in the local diner or flying to the lower 48 for celebrity appearances and product endorsements.