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The Amazing Race 9: Thinking Smart in Episode 1by Jeffrey Clinard -- 03/06/2006
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The Amazing Race is back, with eleven two person teams and a return to the international format of the race. While I think The Amazing Race 8 (Family Edition) was an interesting experiment, in the end I think it lacked the elements that makes The Amazing Race so interesting. In particular, the family edition attempted to keep the teams from interacting with the locals, while the regular format makes culture clash and foreign customs part of the fun.
This cast looks to be one of the more interesting ones yet, with beach bums, hippies, screaming sisters, and a couple of nerds in love. After one episode, some teams are already showing they are smart, while others have made major mistakes already. It's not always an indication of how things will end up (for example, Chip & Kim from The Amazing Race 5 performed poorly on the first few legs, but learned from their mistakes and ended up winning), but clean racing in the first leg is often a sign of success.
Of course, teams making mistakes, particularly the obvious ones, makes the show more entertaining. In fact, legs where all the teams run good legs are a problem for me as I don't have as much material to work with for this column. Fortunately, the two hour season premier gave me plenty of items to work from. Every time I want to reach through the TV to knock some sense into a team becomes another item to add to this article.
Most teams have finally figured out how to ask the right question at the airport, finding out what flight arrives first, and also went for the second best flight when it was obvious that there were too many teams in front of them to obtain seating. One thing I hope smart teams were doing was attempting to get seated as close to the front of the aircraft as possible. Particularly on a full flight, it can make a lot of difference.
The detour of “Rotor Head” or “Motor Head” was the first point where teams had to make a decision based on their team strengths. Unfortunately, several teams made the wrong choice when they attempted to build the motorcycles. It was probably the faster of the two options, but only if a team member knew what they were doing. A couple of teams had to abandon the task, simply because of they lacked the needed skills to build the motorcycle.
In the end, it seemed like the smarter teams finished first, simply because of mistake free racing, while other teams dropped positions depending on the severity of their mistakes. Which teams were thinking smart in episode one?
Eric & Jeremy: This team performed very well in the first leg, though they did have some luck on their side. That luck came when the American flight, which was scheduled to arrive first, was delayed 40 minutes. That put them in the lead getting into Brazil, and they stayed at the front of the pack getting to the detour. They put themselves in the lead because they read the clue correctly and were the first to get their helicopter tickets from the dispatcher. This was the small edge they had for their first place position, and with mistake free racing from that point out earned themselves $10,000 each.
BJ & Tyler: This is another team which ran a smooth leg, and probably would have finished first if their flight hadn't been delayed. They still might have pulled it off if they had been the first to the helicopter dispatch for their tickets, but still ran a very strong leg. They were also smart to learn some needed Portuguese, such as “Will you pass that car?” That kind of smart thinking can only help them in the race.
Wanda & Desiree: This team led for much of the first half of the race, then stalled out a bit in getting to the airport. They ended up picking the building the furthest from the airport as it was the only one they could find. However, that probably only cost them a few minutes of extra flight time, and they had a good lead on most teams. They had a strong showing, and ended up in third place.
David & Lori: The dating nerds had a strong showing in the leg, losing a minor amount of time at two points. The first was being unable to locate the closest building in the pilot's handbook, though they were able to find the second closest and probably only lost a few minutes doing it. They also didn't read their clue correctly and approached the stadium with the pit stop from the wrong side, losing minutes as they traveled by foot to the correct gate. Still, this team is looking strong at this point.
Lake & Michelle: This team was mixed bag when it came to running the race. Lake completely blew my number one thinking smart tip, as he didn't read the first set of directions. They clearly said that reservations could not be made by phone, but he skipped that part and stopped to make the call. Later, Michelle figured out the mistake, and Lake took “partial” blame. I'm not sure where the other part of the blame goes, because he was in the back seat reading the clue while Michelle was driving.1 2 Next-->
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