Everything about Amazing Race Canada, eh?

Blueberry pies and Express Passes on The Amazing Race Canada

Last week’s episode of The Amazing Race Canada unveiled a couple of firsts for this season. The first Express Passes were captured by Nancy and Mel, Anna and Todd and Mar and Leanne, and it was also the first non-Elimination Leg, saving Zainab and Monica from a trip home.

This week the teams headed back to British Columbia and Salt Spring Island’s thriving art scene. Todd and Anna departed first and were feeling confident thanks to their Express Pass. Akash and Joseph, who thought they’d missed the airport in Dawson City, were the first out of the terminal in Vancouver and off to the harbour airport for the quick jaunt to the island. No more flights were going out that night but the two friends were booked for the first one the next morning. Could they turn their luck around this Leg?

I was a little jealous each team had to consume two blueberry pies because they sure looked good. But before Zainab and Monica could chow down they had a Speed Bump to contend with. That involved correctly identifying different kinds of fleur de sel. Because of the editing, it’s hard to tell how long it took them to complete the extra task, but it sure looked like they did it quickly, and using smell alone. Akash and Joseph were the first to finish their pie (Joseph looked like he was going to throw up) and darted to their Chevrolet for an exit. Todd and Anna and Leanne and Mar opted to forgo their pies and used their Express Passes. I think I’d have saved them, but I wasn’t there eating a pie and wondering if I’d ever finish it. Mel and Nancy refused to use their Express Pass, putting them in last place.

Mount Erskine Provincial Park was the next destination and clues behind one of three pint-sized fairy doors. Akash and Joseph teamed with Todd and Anna to find the clues. The weird thing was that, despite the team play, they really couldn’t help each other. You either found a clue card or you didn’t. Akash and Joseph did and grabbed a ferry to Crofton and the Road Block. Because the ferry was small, it potentially meant several trips would be needed to get all of the teams across and a levelling of the playing field. That was integral to Mel and Nancy—who used their Express Pass to skip the fairy door search—and Dylan and Kwame staying in the Race. I can’t remember the last time all of the Express Passes were used in the same Leg.

Next up? A little driving behind the wheel of a Corvette in under three minutes without exceeding 80 km per hour. Todd nailed it, in the rain, his first time and he and Anna left in first place in favour of some quality time with raptors. Courtney the RCMP officer aced her track time but Courtney the nurse did not. Leanne got a green light, as did Joseph. In the end, Nancy and Courtney were the last ones to complete the car test. It’s easy to get down on yourself like Courtney did; kudos to Adam for being supportive.

Meanwhile, Todd and Anna picked up their next Road Block and attempted to tie a knot to hold a bird of prey onto their glove. With teams appearing and taking a shot at the knot, Mar came to Anna’s rescue. Taylor was the first to finish, on his fifth try, and the RCMP officers were off to find Jon on the mat at the Kinsol Trestle Bridge. Leanne and Mar were hot on their tail followed by Anna and Todd. Adam simply nailed the raptor knot in his first try and vaulted he and Courtney into sixth place with Dylan and Kwame in the fifth spot.

Sadly, the knot was Akash’s undoing; he and Joseph were the last team to arrive and were eliminated from the Race. What did you think of this latest episode? Who do you think has the best chance of winning? Would you have used your Express Pass or kept eating the pie? Let me know in the comments below.

Here’s how the teams finished this Leg of the Race:

  1. Courtney and Taylor (trip for two to Boston)
  2. Anna and Todd
  3. Leanne and Mar
  4. Martina and Phil
  5. Dylan and Kwame
  6. Courtney and Adam
  7. Zainab and Monica
  8. Nancy and Mel
  9. Akash and Joseph (eliminated)

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.

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Comments and queries for the week of July 13

Martina’s funny and a real underdog type [on The Amazing Race Canada]. Although I wonder if giving up her bag will come back to bite her. Maybe weight on a flight? The dance coach was sassy. Funny seeing multiple not even try it although it made things a bit lopsided. An interesting way to split up the Express Passes so one team doesn’t end up with all three like last year. Although they went to frontrunners of the pact anyway. I enjoyed seeing the cheerleaders hike like they were lost for a bit. Two episodes and no credit card action at the airports. Did BMO drop sponsorship this year? Knew it was probably non-elim when they played the heroic music in the ride up. The Starting Line was in B.C., and now an episode in B.C. What is up with the route planning on the show? Last year had weird circling back too. Right now the cheerleaders and cowgirls seem to be strongest. Although either of the teams with a Courtney could pull a dark horse win I feel. —DanAmazing

I thought Chewy and Happy would go farther than Episode 1 too. Was surprised they let Nancy and Mellisa off the gondola first (“Ladies first!”) as it is a race (??) but that just showed chivalry still exists even in competition. This run might be Heroes Edition but quite a few of the couples came off as just regular people who signed up for a physically challenging adventure, i.e., Martina and Phil during the log climb. I felt so sorry for them both but she did it. My arms and legs were feeling her pain watching it on TV. The food bank volunteers also came off as everyday people. Will be rooting for them too. As always, enjoy the scenery of this great country especially some of the places shown I will likely never have opportunity to go. —Tunie


Wow … just found out InnerSpace is gone! Might have to be Space channel GONE from my viewing. —Bruno

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.

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The Amazing Race Canada: Express Passes in Dawson City

Still smarting after seeing Chewy and Happy eliminated so early on The Amazing Race Canada, I hoped my remaining favourite teams would stick around a little longer, and perhaps win the whole shebang.

Leanne and Mar, who placed first last week and scored a trip for two to Tokyo, tore open the Route Info envelope and revealed the remaining teams were headed to Dawson City, Yukon. Not only would the Leg celebrate the gold rush but three Express Passes were available, meaning some pairs would have a distinct advantage over others and possible partnerships were in play.

Martina and Phil proved to not only be a savvy team but thoughtful too. Realizing they were faster if Phil carried all their gear, they put everything in his knapsack … and gave hers away to someone in need. How can you not cheer for a team who does that? Meanwhile,  Akash and Joseph seemed determined to turn their luck around.

Everyone was on the same plane, so who got into their sponsored vehicle first was key. Well, that and the speed to set up a Woods-themed campsite. The duo to manage that would score $5,000 from the tent company. Todd and Anna led the charge to the mining camp followed by three teams. Courtney and Adam were confident their outdoor background would serve them well. As for Akash and Joseph? They forgot their tent back at the airport. Todd and Anna completed the task first, collecting the next clue and $5,000. Kwame and Dylan were done next, followed by lovebirds Courtney and Adam and Mellisa and Nancy.

A modern-day gold rush experience was next, as teams used GPS to navigate to nine locations in Dawson City, collect five gold coins and return them to the bank to cash in their next clue. Of the remaining four locations were three Express Passes. Nancy and Mel snagged the first Express Pass. Anna and Todd’s strong effort was paid off when they got the second Express Pass and were first to cash in their coins. I have a feeling Anna and Todd are going to be sneaky tough this season. A flurry of gold coin-carrying teams rolled through the test. And Mar and Leanne’s perseverance paid off when a long walk netted them the final Express Pass.

A Detour had squads choosing between dealing blackjack or dancing the can-can on stage in burlesque costumes. (I would have done the latter.) Anna and Todd opted for blackjack and he sped through his half thanks to playing online and with his friends. Anna’s math skills let her down the first time but she succeeded in try No. 2. Courtney and Adam chose to dance, meaning he had to squeeze into an orange and black outfit. He was, predictably, terrible and the smooching twosome switched challenges.

The Leg’s Pit Stop was located at the top of Midnight Dome where Jon welcomed Todd and Anna and awarded them with a trip to France. A flurry of kicking legs and dealt cards followed as the rest of the teams checked in, with Mellisa and Nancy coming on strong, followed by Taylor and Courtney, Mar and Leanne and the rest. Zainab and Monica just couldn’t get out of their funk and arrived on the mat in last place … only to be informed this was a non-elimination Leg. The pair will have to complete an extra test in the next Leg and should be thanking their lucky stars the producers gave them a break so early in the season.

Who do you think has the best chance to win this season? Who are your favourite teams? Let me know in the comments below.

Here’s how the teams finished this Leg of the Race:

  1. Todd and Anna (Express Pass and won a trip for two to the south of France)
  2. Nancy and Mellisa (Express Pass)
  3. Taylor and Courtney
  4. Mar and Leanne (Express Pass)
  5. Dylan and Kwame
  6. Martina and Phil
  7. Adam and Courtney
  8. Joseph and Akash
  9. Zainab and Monica (non-elimination Leg)

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.

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The Amazing Race Canada: The Heroes depart

It usually takes me a couple of legs of The Amazing Race Canada before I decide which teams I like and have the best chance of winning. Thanks to Bell Media, I had an edge going into this Heroes Edition because I got to interview the teams before they headed out on the Race. (Check those interviews out here, here and here.)

As a result, when Tuesday finally rolled around for the first episode of this season, I was expecting big things from former Canadian Air Force pilots Chewy and Happy, Toronto Argos cheerleaders Leanne and Marielle and RCMP officers Taylor and Courtney. No disrespect to the others; it was just my gut feeling. And, as it turned out, my gut was dead wrong in one case.

Things had started out so swimmingly for all of the teams. This Heroes Edition version of The Amazing Race Canada spotlights those who give of themselves for the better of others, so expect plenty of inspirational speeches and tales of hardship and triumph. Jon Montgomery, who has become the voice of the summer months in this country despite competing in the Winter Games, gamely took his pride of place in front of the 10 teams participating this year. After introducing all of the teams and their stories, they assembled in front of Jon at Hatley Castle in Victoria, B.C., and were poised for the finger drop.

Martina and Phil were the first to depart the castle in their Chevy, headed to a mainland ferry before driving to Squamish, B.C. In second were Happy and Chewy, followed by Courtney and Taylor and everyone else … except for Kwame and Dylan, who literally missed the boat and suffered a two-hour setback. You’d think that would be an insurmountable feat, but not on The Amazing Race Canada. With nine other teams in the running, there was plenty of time for a rookie mistake.

Once the ferries docked, the teams drove to Squamish and hopped on board gondolas to collect their next clue. The Amazing Race Canada camera crews always do a stellar job capturing the beauty of this country, and this episode was no exception. The stunning mountain peaks, roaring rivers and twisting roads made me long for an excuse to head west. Happy and Chewy were the first to arrive at the gondola, followed by Nancy and Mellisa, Leanne and Marielle, Todd and Anna, Courtney and Taylor and Martina and Phil. Zainab and Monica were hopelessly lost in Vancouver as Kwame and Dylan drove off their ferry.

The first Road Block of the season tasked players with pulling themselves along ropes high above a canyon floor to retrieve a stuffed beaver from its spot hooked to the rope. Chewy went first, and just missed snagging the little beast before continuing on his bungee cord course to the bottom of the canyon. He would have to try again. Nancy grabbed the beaver on her first try and she and Mellisa vacated the scene in favour of the Squamish Days Festival. Leanne succeeded next, as did Todd, Taylor, Phil and Dylan. Adam and Akash missed on their first tries too but the trio all grabbed the beaver on their second tries.

The second Road Block took place at the Festival site, where the other team member had to make like a lumberjack and climb a massive 80-foot pole to retrieve the next clue card. Two height-related challenges in the same episode? Interesting choice by the producers. As an aside, it was great to see two all-female teams leading the first leg of the Race. (Quote of the night: “I’ve got slivers in my crotch!”) Mellisa and Nancy were unstoppable as they departed for Darrell Bay and the next clue to fish for regulation-sized crab. Trouble was, they didn’t realize the buoys were attached to the crab traps and paddled their tandem board right on by, leaving Leanne and Marielle to take the lead.

All teams headed for the Brittania Mine Museum (where several features and TV shows, including The X-Files, have filmed) to seek out Mill No. 3, and the first Pit Stop of Season 6. Argos cheerleaders Leanne and Marielle made it to the mat first, scoring a trip for two to Tokyo. Nancy and Mellisa were steps behind, followed by Todd and Anna, Dylan and Kwame and Taylor and Courtney. The five-team scramble to haul in the right sized crab meant Happy and Chewy were in last place on the drive to the Mine Museum. Zainab and Monica, Martina and Phil and Adam and Courtney all hit the mat within seconds of each other, leaving Joseph and Akash and Chewy and Happy in a footrace for the final spot. Chewy was steps behind his partner, but too late to save them from elimination.

What are your thoughts regarding the teams racing this season? Let me know in the comments below!

Here’s how the teams finished this Leg of the Race:

  1. Leanne and Marielle (trip for two to Tokyo)
  2. Nancy and Mellisa
  3. Todd and Anna
  4. Dylan and Kwame
  5. Taylor and Courtney
  6. Zainab and Monica
  7. Martina and Phil
  8. Adam and Courtney
  9. Joseph and Akash
  10. Chewy and Happy (eliminated)

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition — Meet Nancy & Mellisa, Taylor & Courtney, Todd & Anna and Zainab & Monica

The Amazing Race‘s 10 teams have finally been revealed and we couldn’t be more excited. Not only is this season of the Race—returning Tuesday, July 3, at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV—being dubbed Heroes Edition because of the inspirational folks involved, but we actually got a chance to meet the teams before they began the Race. Not only that, but we were among a small group of Canadian media who observed a leg of the Race being run! More on that later; in the meantime, check out our interviews with the 10 teams competing this summer.

Nancy Csabay and Mellisa Hollingsworth
Occupations: Professional Barrel Racer/Horse Trainer (Nancy) and Olympian/Public Speaker/Realtor (Mellisa)

Who do you consider a hero?
Nancy: Someone who serves others. They think of other people before themselves. I believe everyone is a hero in their own right.

Mellisa: And somebody who inspires you through their story. If I talk about Nancy, there are so many people who can connect with Nancy and her story. That’s her fighting strength and what she’s gone through.

That’s what I like about The Amazing Race Canada. There is such positivity associated with the series.
Mellisa: When you watch it you are cheering for every single team. I get so emotionally invested in them and I feel what they’re feeling.

Any nervousness at this point?
Nancy: Just from our sports background, I look at nervousness a little different than others. For me, when I feel that in my stomach I look at it as excitement. How many of us get to do what I do? Specifically, in barrel racing, there is a small number of women who barrel race and how lucky am I?

Mellisa: And we both have that experience of knowing how to handle that emotion. I was taught at a very young age that nerves are good because it means you care.

As athletes, I would expect that gives you an advantage.
Nancy: Yeah, though, instead of comparing ourselves to others we’re just going to go and run our own race. We won’t worry what everyone else is doing. Instead of following someone who might not even know the way, we’re planning on staying calm and really reading the clue and making sure we know the task at hand.

Mellisa: We’re a bit of a social experiment too in our dynamic. We don’t know each other on an intimate level. We’re not siblings, we’re not spouses and we’re not best friends. We know each other professionally. But, while prepping, it’s been quite interesting. Our values and beliefs are aligning and that’s really interesting.

Any challenges you hope you don’t come across during the Race?
Nancy: Yeah, I’m not a big fan of snakes but Mellisa doesn’t mind handling them.

Mellisa: One of the things we’ve learned so far is to not focus on those phobias until we get to them. It’s the same in sport; whatever your weakness is, if you constantly give it attention and focus on it your world will revolve around it.


Taylor and Courtney Callens
Occupations: RCMP Officers

A quick question about being RCMP officers. Your bio indicates you’re the next generation of officers in your family. Did you always consider this career?
Courtney: I became a Mountie first just because I’m older. I finished university and then I applied and didn’t tell anybody. You write a test and then if you pass with a certain score you’re welcomed into the application process. My dad received my results in the mail and I told him to open it up. Thank god I passed, because how mortifying would it be if I didn’t?

Taylor: I’ve always wanted to do it. I went to school first, for criminology, and got my ducks in a row. I told everyone. I was the opposite. That was a lot of pressure because when you have three generations in front of you, plus your sister is now a member if you fail it’s devastating. But no family pressure.

Why will you be the last team standing in the season finale?
Taylor: We’re siblings. Some may look at that as a weakness, but in our dynamic … siblings fight. We’ve learned to make up and become friends again. We’ve gotten into fights for the last 25 years and we’re getting pretty good at bringing it back to Happyville.

Courtney: We’re so good at laughing it off.

Taylor: For other teams that aren’t related, that could cause a crack in their team. For us, we can seal that crack pretty quick and move on.

Is your plan to form any alliances or will you try to keep to yourselves?
Courtney: I’m not opposed to making friends.

Taylor: It’s not a closed door.

Courtney: But it’s not exactly wide open either.

Taylor: It would depend on the dynamics of the game. If it was a case where making allies on the show will help us or advance us, then yeah.

Can you be backstabby if you have to be?
Courtney: We can, but I’d prefer not to be. Being police officers, I hold us to a bit of a higher standard. And there is nothing like the conversation killer of, ‘I’m a cop.’


Todd Kirk and Anna Holtby
Occupations: Electrician (Todd) and Writer (Anna)

What did you do for your audition tape?
Todd: It was really last-minute. We filmed it in her apartment and then sent it in, like, 10 minutes before the deadline.

Anna: We were just ourselves. We bantered back and forth a little bit and then Todd shared his really amazing story.

Todd, tell me a bit about that story. Surviving cancer is a big milestone on its own, but you also endured bullying.
Todd: The message that I want to get across is anyone with cancer or a facial difference or anything like that … you can go out, express yourself and bring the message to Canada that you don’t have to be scared. I was scared and through friends, family and sports I gained confidence.

What gives you the edge against other teams?
Anna: I think it’s the balance we have as a team. Where he’s strong, I’m weak and where he’s weak, I’m strong. I’m not very good mechanically, but Todd can have something done in three minutes.

Todd: Anna is more book smarts and that’s definitely not me.

Anna: I’m detail-oriented and organized.

What have you done to prepare for the Race?
Anna: We’ve watched all the old seasons of the show and I took a book out of the library that is a children’s book all about Canada. I did tests of the provincial and territorial flags. And then we went to the gym for training.


Zainab Ansari and Monica Demain
Occupations: Navy Sailors, Royal Canadian Navy

What or who do you think of when you think ‘hero’?
Monica: I think of Zainab. I think of our moms. We both have single moms.

Zainab: I think of fellow Canadian Forces members. A hero can be anybody that you look up to that you want to emulate, to strive to be like and makes you feel good about yourself.

Why are you the team to beat?
Monica: We’re very skilled. We complement each other when it comes to skills. We don’t take no for an answer.

Zainab: Determination! The whole package. And I feel like, at first glance, we don’t come off as a strong team and we’re going to use that to our advantage. We’re not going to tell anyone what we do for a living.

Because you think that will put a target on your back?
Zainab: Completely.

Monica: Right now we look like sweet little girls, which we are. But we also came to attack. We came here to race, not make friends. Maybe outside of the Race, but not while we’re in it.

How did you prepare?
Zainab: We’re actually really lucky because I think it’s the same as preparing to be deployed. You don’t know where you’re going, but you know that you have to pack for a whole spectrum of conditions. Packing was a cinch, I think. And, also, we’re used to travelling around the world with the navy. We know how to deal with a lack of sleep, jetlag, stress.

Monica: We’ve been in those positions where someone is literally breathing down on you. The best way to work through that is to be calm or else you won’t be able to pay attention to detail.

The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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