MOSCOW, April 18 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian team of seven 16-year-olds together with two experienced polar explorers and the country's children's rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, have skiied to the North Pole, the ombudsman's press service said Friday.
“On April 18, 2014 at 12.44, the Seventh Russian Youth Expedition 'Skiing to the North Pole!' has reached its goal! The teen polar expedition has planted a Russian flag at the top of the world!” the press statement reads.
The team traversed 180 kilometers to reach the chilly spot in eight days, while expeditions of experienced adult athletes from the US and Norway fell behind, according to Astakhov.
The teens traveled to the North Pole while battling severe northern winds, huge ice ridges and other dangers.
Among the participants were students of schools for children with special needs and orphanages. Two of them are hearing-impaired, another three are being raised in orphanages, and one attends a military boarding school. The team will return to Moscow on April 20.
Russia regards development of the Arctic as one of its top priorities. Last year, Moscow unveiled a strategy aimed at increasing its presence in the region and boosting development by 2020. Experts say it may take Russia five to seven years to ratchet up its Arctic exploration effort to what it was during its golden era in the 1930-40s.