There’s no question that Steve Riedel is a character. Often seen as a goofball, Steve has done a lot of things to raise eyebrows over the years but nothing got people worked up more than the now infamous “Cold is Gold” incident. In Season 12 of Bering Sea Gold, Emily decided to give her dad another chance to work for her.
Steve and Emily have worked together numerous times in the past with varying degrees of success but mostly with disastrous results due to Steve’s, shall we say, quirky ways. While the Cold is Gold incident caused an uproar with viewers it’s not the first time Steve’s workplace ways have put him in conflict with his team.
Starting off as a deckhand and diver on the Wild Ranger, Steve showed his unique approach to diving and gold mining, oftentimes getting into heated arguments with hot-headed Scott Meisterheim and owner Vernon Adkison which resulted in him being kicked off the boat multiple times.
In season 3, there was the time when Steve’s setup on his tiny dredge, The Minnow, gave Andy Kelly carbon monoxide poisoning due to not installing a snorkel on the air compressor to ensure it was sucking in fresh air and not exhaust. After a rocky season Steve and the Kelly brothers even got into a shoving match at one point. With barely any gold for the season, the Kelly’s quit working with Captain Steve and his dredge was soon repo’ed.
There never appears to be malicious intent involved but rather a consistently questionable way of doing things. The old adage ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ doesn’t apply to Steve and his methods. It was one of these methods that brought about the biggest scandal yet for him.
In season 12, Emily wanted to buy a second dredge and she needed someone she could trust to run the Eroica for her while she was looking at dredges for sale. She decided, for some reason, that person should be her dad, Steve.
His first day on the Eroica Emily showed Steve the boat systems, how it all worked and what she expected of him. It wasn’t clear how much sunk in as Steve says, “I’m pretty much untrainable but Emily’s gonna give it a shot so there might be hope for me.”
During all this Steve keeps mentioning how he’s been watching Russian Diver videos and has some ideas to increase productivity. Emily tells him multiple times his job is to make sure the diver stays alive, and not to mess with anything. After the first dive goes well Emily is confident enough to let Steve take over and heads off to make a deal for a new dredge. What could go wrong?
The minute Emily’s gone, Steve is giddy with excitement over his production-boosting plan and wastes no time putting it into action. His plan? Turn down the water temperature that feeds into the divers suit. Normally, it’s kept at around 100° F but Steve explains that by slowly turning it down to around 80°F will make the diver work harder and put him in the “optimal gold producing zone.” We can already see why viewers were outraged by this, especially because the diver kept saying he was cold and asking about the water temperature. Above on the boat, Steve laughed maniacally while stating ‘Cold is Gold!’.
When Emily called to check on how things were going, she was less than impressed with Steve’s plan and hurried back to the Eroica. Once there she quickly turned up the water temperature and apologized to her diver. She then explained to Steve, as he protested, that turning it down could cause the diver hypothermia. The water is only around 35° – 40° F at the end of the summer. Steve tried to argue with her, saying that he’s watched videos about this and it was working, that “Cold is Gold!”
But we want to look at the incident from a different angle – one where Steve is actually onto something.
There’s a growing body of evidence that cold temperatures can increase your focus and alertness.Cold therapy is actually growing in popularity due to its health and productivity benefits, and respected scientists are advocating for its practice.
Dr. Ashwini Nadkarni, an associate psychiatrist and instructor at Harvard Medical School, says that exposure to low temperatures activates the sympathetic nervous system in our bodies, which controls our involuntary response to dangerous or stressful situations.
As a result – it was found that workers who take cold showers reduced the number of sick days they took off work, improved their productivity, and lowered their anxiety levels.
The most famous proponent of cold therapy, Wim Hof, whose nickname is ‘The Iceman,’ has broken a number of records related to cold exposure including: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts, running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle barefoot, and standing in a container while covered with ice cubes for more than 112 minutes.
His method of cold therapy has gained serious popularity in recent years among professional athletes and other high-performers as a natural way to improve focus, sleep, and reduce stress and inflammation. Professional athletes like Laird Hamilton and Alistair Overeem already practice Wim’s principles to stay on top of their game.
Hof says “When you go into the cold, you cannot think. You have to be. You learn to be…to be the best version of yourself.” And if Steve wants anything, isn’t it that his team is the best version of itself?
The internet was ablaze with angry fans criticizing Steve and his antics. Many keyboard warriors were calling for Steve to be banned from not only the show but also Nome. They questioned both his morals and his sanity.
But maybe the right question is this: was Steve Riedel right? Maybe Cold IS Gold.
Maybe he’s not an irresponsible tender, but actually a misunderstood genius. We celebrate the independent thinkers and the borderline crazy in this business, because without them the offshore dredge business wouldn’t exist. But maybe, of course, Steve just has a lot of bad ideas.
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