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The Amazing Race 9: Thinking Smart in Episode 2by Jeffrey Clinard -- 03/10/2006
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There are often times in The Amazing Race where teams are separated into different groups, which generally means a team in the last group is eliminated. This time the charter buses were used to separate the teams into three groups, and sure enough, Joni & Lisa, who were on the last bus, came in last place and were eliminated.
The roadblock came into play in determining which teams got on which bus, but while the task was physical, there was a mental aspect to it as well. Teams had their choice of three different fire escapes, but for some reason five teams chose to use the first fire escape, four teams chose the second one, and only one team picked the third one. Jeremy, BJ, and Joseph were the fastest climbers on each of the fire escapes, and it directly led to their teams getting on the first bus. From there, lines were formed based on climbing speed, except on the third fire escape, which only BJ used. A smart team should have climbed the escape with the fewest teams, which would provide a shorter line. This might have led to a ticket on the second bus. While it's obviously not a guarantee the team wouldn’t have been eliminated, it certainly would buy the team extra time to recover from their mistakes.
The detour was a choice of “Press It,” where teams pressed sugar cane and distilled ethanol or “Climb It,” where teams used ascenders to climb up a waterfall. Which was faster? Well, it largely depends on the strengths of the team. Physically strong teams were probably better off climbing, while less physical teams were better off pressing. Teams should always play to their strengths.
In the end, much of the finishing order within each bus group was determined by the ability of the teams to get directions to the various locations. Eric & Jeremy, BJ & Tyler, and Lake & Michelle got locals to lead the way, and all ended up finishing ahead of the other teams in their bus group. It goes to show how much being polite to the locals and otherwise enlisting their aid can help a team.
The teams haven't yet left Brazil, but already some teams are showing themselves to be thinking smarter than others. How did each team do in the second leg of the race?
Tyler & BJ: First place, and thinking smart during the entire leg. BJ went for the third fire escape, which may have been a little further away, but he ended up having it all to himself, insuring he'd be the first one to descend from it. This led to a spot on the first bus. Combined with good performances at the detour, and enlisting a local guide, they took first place and a nice vacation.
Eric & Jeremy: Second place, but also a team who was thinking smart for the entire leg. Jeremy was the first to the top of the first fire escape, leading to a spot on the first bus. Along with Tyler & BJ, they got a local guide to show them the way to the pit stop. Also, despite the way it possibly cost them first place, they stopped to asked directions when they got nervous about the length of time it was taking to get to the pit stop. It would have been far worse to continue to follow somebody in the wrong direction.
Joseph & Monica: This team was one of the few to have a major position change, moving from sixth to third place. Most of this was due to Joseph's speed on the second fire escape, giving the team the time to claim a spot on the first bus. They did well on the detour. Joseph and Monica ran a good leg, but two other teams ran better legs through the use of a local guide.
Dave & Lori: The dating couple had another solid leg, though they did have a bit of luck. Dave was the third person to rappel down the second fire escape, behind Joseph and Lake. However, Lake & Michelle made a mistake which allowed Dave & Lori to pass them and get on the second bus. Still, they did make the second bus, and then picked the detour option better suited for their team. They finished first out of all the teams on the second bus, showing they have racing ability.
Ray & Yolanda: This team ran a pretty good leg and might have done even better if they had been able to get a ticket on the first bus. They had a shot at getting it, but just didn't make it. However, they did get a seat on the second bus, and did a good job at the detour. Overall there wasn't much they could have done differently in order to have placed better.
Wanda & Desiree: The mother daughter team had the largest drop in rank in this episode, going from third to sixth. Overall, they struggled more in this leg than the first one. While they made a good choice by opting for the sugar cane task, they had problems finding their way around and ended up being the last team from the second bus to check into the pit stop. However, by getting on the second bus, they had the extra time needed to recover from their mistakes.
Lake & Michelle: The married parents continue to be a mixed bag when it comes to smart racing. They made a big mistake by taking a bus after completing the roadblock. Even if it had been going to the right bus station, they had no way of knowing how many stops it would make along the way. Overall, it cost them a ticket on the second bus. However, they did run the rest of the leg well. They had no problems with the detour and were able to hire a guy to lead them to the pit stop. They finished first from those in the last bus. This team has some racing ability, but has to stop making mistakes. They've been fortunate in that their mistakes have been towards the beginning of the leg, which allows time for recovery.
Danielle & Dani: If both team members have a fear of heights, it wouldn’t matter which one went up. If only Danielle has it, they made a mistake in having her perform the roadblock. They ran an OK leg, though it’s hard to tell if Fran & Barry would have beaten them to the pit stop.
Fran & Barry: It’s a bit hard to tell how smart this team was thinking due to the unfortunate business of the dead battery in their car. While both members are in fairly good physical condition, I’m not sure if either of them could have gotten to the top of the fire escape faster than most of the other teams. Fran could have made up for that if she had gone to the third tower, but it’s no worse a mistake than most other teams made. I’m also not sure if picking the climb over the pressing was the right move. It would be useful to know what place they would have finished in if it weren’t for the car, but overall I’m thinking this team may be one of the weaker ones left in the race.
Lisa & Joni: What went wrong? Well, they had problems driving their car and finding their way around. Their problems must have been major, because it was nighttime when they arrived at the pit stop, and even Fran & Barry’s car trouble didn’t keep them from getting to the pit stop faster. In short, they were not a good racing team, and it caught up to them in the second episode.
Jeffrey Clinard has been writing about The Amazing Race since the first edition, writing over 100 articles about it for RealityNewsOnline since its premier season. He can be reached at email@example.com .
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