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‘The Amazing Race 8’ Teams Revealedby Jenn Brasler -- 08/19/2005
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This season of The Amazing Race marks a number of records and firsts. For the first time, teams consist of four people rather than the normal two. Each team is related in some way – biologically or by marriage. A record 40 contestants will be competing on a total of ten teams, and the age restriction has been lifted – the youngest participant is eight years old.
Rather than pitting ten teams of two parents and two kids each against each other, the producers have found a very eclectic mix of families, some traditional and some not so traditional. Because of the size of the teams and the fact that some racers are children, the tasks and legs of the race will probably be very different this time around. However, I don’t think it will be any less entertaining.
So here are the ten families in this season’s race:
The Aiello Family – Father-in-law Tony, 57; sons-in-law Kevin, 31, Matt, 31, and David, 26: Matt, David, and Kevin must really like their wives’ father if they’re willing to travel around the world with him. The four hail from Mansfield, Massachusetts, where Tony, a fan of The Godfather, works as a restaurant consultant. Kevin, who works in PR, is married to one of Tony’s twin daughters; Matt, a corporate project manager, is married to the other twin. Both couples have two children. David is a policeman and spent eight years in the Marine Corps. I’m predicting some Kevin/Drew-like moments from this team.
The Black Family – Dad Reggie, 42; mom Kimberly, 40; sons Kenneth, 11, and Austin, 8: Austin is the youngest contestant ever to appear on The Amazing Race, so good for him. The Blacks live in Woodbridge, Virginia (not far from me!), where Reggie and Kimberly are both teachers. All four family members compete in Tae Kwon Do tournaments; Kenneth has his black belt and Austin hopes to earn his soon. I think this family will be underestimated but will go a lot farther than anyone expects.
The Bransen Family – Dad Walter, 51; daughters Elizabeth, 25, Lauren, 22, and Lindsay, 20: The Bransens live in Park Ridge, Illinois, where Walter is a CFO. He’s been married to the girls’ mother for 31 years. Elizabeth has a master’s in social work from the University of Illinois. Lauren recently graduated from Hope College, which Lindsay still attends. I think there may be some fights between the sisters, since they all seem strong-willed and describe themselves as stubborn and impatient. Also, I predict that very few people will be able to tell Lindsay and Lauren apart.
The Gaghan Family – Mom Tammy, 42; dad Bill, 40; son Billy, 12; daughter Carissa, 9: Bill and Tammy lived in Korea for three years but now reside in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Bill is in jet-engine sales and Tammy is a substitute teacher. The couple runs marathons and hopes to compete in one in each state. Billy is athletic and describes himself as adventurous, though Tammy says that he’s been having pre-adolescent mood swings. Carissa is the second-youngest racer, but Bill thinks that she’ll be persistent and observant. Honestly, I don’t see this team making it very far, but I shouldn’t make predictions - two seasons ago I thought that Freddy and Kendra would be one of the first teams eliminated.
The Godlewski Family – Sisters Michelle, 42, Sharon, 39, Christine, 27, and Tricia, 26: These sisters are from Des Plaines, Illinois and all live within half an hour of each other. Michelle, who describes herself as competitive and excitable, will probably use her status as the oldest to take charge. Christine, who has four children, says that she would like to be able to defend herself better when she fights with her siblings. Sharon thinks she thrives on challenges, which would make her the perfect racer. Tricia always winds up making peace between her siblings and wants to prove that she can compete with the best of them. This family strikes me as one that will run into a lot of conflicts, too.
The Linz Family – Brothers Nick, 24, Alex, 22, Tommy, 19; sister Megan, 21: The four Linz siblings, whose parents have been married for more than 28 years, are from Cincinnati, Ohio. Nick works in sales in Buffalo, and I know I’m going to have trouble telling him apart from Alex, who works as an emergency room tech. Megan and Tommy both attend Miami University of Ohio, where Tommy plays lacrosse and Megan plays field hockey and cheerleads. As these four are all athletic and competitive, I think that they will be one of the more formidable teams.
The Paolo Family – Dad Tony, 52; mom Marion, 52; sons DJ, 24, and Brian, 16: The Paolos are from Carmel, New York, and are described as both “bickering” and “lovable.” Tony is a sanitation worker in New York City, and used to live in Italy. Marion is a homemaker who thinks that Tony is too easy on the boys. DJ works in title report production, whatever that is. Brian is, as any typical teenager, embarrassed by his family and thinks he’s the only normal one. He and DJ both believe that Marion won’t last long. If this family bickers as much as described, they won’t last long, which is a shame, because they probably are lovable.
The Rogers Family – Dad Denny, 46; mom Renee, 42; daughter Brittney, 22; son Brock, 19: Let’s hope that this southern family has more luck than last season’s southern team, Ryan and Chuck. Renee trains beauty pageant contestants and runs a boutique in the family’s hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. Denny has worked in the car business for more than 26 years, so if this team has to negotiate taxi fares, he’s probably the one to turn to. Brittney, a former Miss Louisiana, enjoys shopping and kickboxing. She’s described as “sassy,” which doesn’t make me think I’ll like her. Brock is heading to college this fall and seems athletic. Denny says that the family never enters anything unless they plan to win, but I just can’t get a read on this team yet.
The Schroeder Family – Dad Mark, 40; step-mom Char, 39; daughter Stassi, 17; son Hunter, 15: Considering the fact that I keep confusing the Schroeders with the Rogers family, they’re not standing out to me very much. The Schroeders are also from Louisiana, where Mark is an architect in New Orleans. Stassi and Hunter are his children from a previous marriage, and Mark wants his family to learn to rely on one another. Char, a public relations director, often plays mediator during family arguments. Stassi and Hunter are both in high school, and Stassi is described as the family’s queen. Also not endearing herself to me. Hunter is described as lazy (by his own family members!), which is definitely not a good sign. Unless this team can put the squabbling on hold and get Hunter to do his share, they’re doomed.
The Weaver Family – Mom Linda, 46; daughters Rebecca, 19 and Rachel, 16; son Rolly, 14: I like this family immediately. Linda, an elementary school teacher, is the sole provider and parent in the house, since her husband died about two years ago. The family lives in Ormond Beach, Florida, where the girls enjoy horseback riding, and Rolly likes basketball and football. I think that because this family has gone through a tragedy together, they will be closer than some of the other teams and will be able to deal with each other more easily. I think they will be another team that is underestimated.
As of right now, the Weavers and the Aiellos are my sentimental favorites. I’m hesitant to make predictions, since I’m so bad at them, but I might as well go for it. If nothing else, I can laugh at myself later when I turn out to be wrong. I’ll say that the Schroeders, the Paolos, and the Gaghans are the first three out, and the Linzes, the Blacks, and the Aiellos will be the final three teams, with the Linzes winning. However, I reserve the right to change my mind whenever I want to.
The eighth season of The Amazing Race premieres Tuesday, September 27th with a two-hour episode. Let’s hope these people wear nametags so we can tell all 40 of them apart.
Jenn Brasler is an aspiring writer from Falls Church, VA. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Since she has three brothers, she has a built-in four-person family team, but they would probably kill each other on a trip around the world.
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