The Amazing Race 4, Episode 2: Snowrafts, Gondolas, and Masks Ė Oh My!by Phil Kural -- 06/06/2003
Previously on The Amazing Race, we were introduced to 12 teams who would be racing around the world for one million dollars. Some struggled, like Tian & Jaree, while others completed each obstacle like it was part of their everyday life, like Millie & Chuck. At the end of the day though, someone had to go, and that ended up being one of my sentimental favorites, Debra & Steve. Eleven teams remain, but someone is going home tonight.
Here is the order in which they will be leaving the current pit stop, located at The Lajadira Hotel in the Italian Alps:
1st Ė Amanda & Chris Ė Dating Couple
1st Ė Millie & Chuck Ė Dating for 12 years/Virgins
1st Ė Steve & Josh Ė Father and son duo
4th Ė Monica & Sheree Ė NFL wives/sentimental favorites
5th Ė Steve & Dave Ė Old heads/Air traffic controllers
6th Ė Jon & Kelly Ė Engaged Couple/My pick to win
7th Ė Jon & Al Ė Circus Clowns
8th Ė Russell & Cindy Ė Who even knows at this point/Dating?
9th Ė Reichen & Chip Ė Married gay couple
10th Ė Dave & Jeff Ė Best Friends
11th Ė Tian & Jaree Ė Models/Singers/Actresses/Strippers; Well not the last part, but Iím sure theyíve dabbled.
Anyway, itís 11:52 p.m. and Amanda & Chris, Millie & Chuck, and Steve & Josh all head out. They are told to go to the Trampolino Olympico ski jump where they will have to do some snow rafting. When they get there, they will have to load into a van that will take them to the top of the hill. Then the teams must get to the bottom of the hill, one at a time, on rafts. This looks like so much fun. Josh comments that the race is making him feel closer to dad. Why is that Josh, is he a jerk like you are? Okay, let me stop. The three of these teams decide they are going to stick together. Now, here is the thing: Millie & Chuck say that they are all in an alliance, yet neither of the other two teams mention this. I find that odd. Maybe itís a very loose alliance or maybe Millie & Chuck are just delusional. I wouldnít doubt it. Chuck also states that being a virgin and dating someone for 12 years shows that he has willpower. Thatís not all it shows Chuck Ė it shows that youíre an idiot. These three front teams really get on my nerves, in case you couldnít tell. Meanwhile, we have Chris shouting at Amanda to hurry up. They remind me of a younger version of Ian & Terri.
They quickly get to their task and complete it. Millie & Chuck go first, followed by Amanda & Chris and Steve & Josh. They get their next route marker at the bottom of the hill and it tells them to go to the Ponte Della Guglia Bridge in Venice. They will find their next route marker there. The teams have to get their by train, but there are only two train stations that will take them to Venice. One is closer and the train leaves later, and one is farther, but they have a chance to get a faster train.
It is now 12:48 a.m. and Monica & Sheree are now leaving the pit stop. They say that they are determined to succeed at all costs. I wish they hadnít used the fast forward. It was the biggest waste of the fast forward ever and can really cripple them for the rest of the race, especially if they check in at a pit stop at the bottom of the pack. At 1:05 a.m., Steve & Dave leave. They both state that they are hurting and know they need to stay ahead of the others because if they fall behind they are doomed. Monica & Sheree do the rafting challenge, and look like they are having the time of their life. 1:15 a.m. and Jon & Kelly are on their way. Kelly says her main goal is not to let Jon down while Jon says that Kelly is blossoming. How good are these two together? Iím upgrading their status to ďsentimental favoriteĒ along with Monica & Sheree.
Steve & Dave do the rafting challenge and have a plan to take the next taxi that comes along carrying another team. However, that is not going to work because the next team, Jon & Kelly, are dropped off at the top of the hill. They realize they are in the wrong spot and have to get to the bottom. Instead of climbing back into their taxi, which may have already left, they decide it would be more fun to just slide down the hill. As they are doing this, Steve & Dave are calling them morons. They may be morons, but I must admit, they got down the hill rather quickly and managed to keep Steve & Dave there until their own taxi showed up.
Itís now 1:22 a.m. and Jon & Al are leaving. They always look like they are having fun. By this time though, Jon and Kelly have just finished going down the hill the correct way. 1:44 a.m. sees Russell and Cindy leaving the pit stop. Cindy says that she loves Russell, while Russell says they are not traveling romantically because the stress of the race may bruise their relationship. I understand where Russell is coming with this, but he better not mention it to Cindy, she may pitch a fit. Also, has anyone else noticed that Cindy has an extremely long neck? Itís not a bad thing, but I canít believe how long it is! Maybe that is why she always wears a turtleneck. Oh, poor Cindy.
At the Calalzo station, Jon and Kelly rest their things. This looks to be the closer train station, because they are the only team that has arrived there so far. Jon & Al are doing the rafts. Reichen and Chip are leaving the pit stop, and say that since some of the other teams are playing dirty, they will too. You know what, I like these two. They came to run a clean race, but they can change their strategy at the drop of a dime. They werenít necessarily screwed in the first leg, but they are right when saying that other teams are playing dirty, specifically Josh from the father/son team.
All the other teams get to the rafts in a rather quick way. Not Russell & Cindy. They manage to get lost and have yet to get there. Meanwhile, Reichen & Chip have already finished. These two amaze me. Russell & Cindy manage to always get lost and lose a lead they have over someone. This will not be the last time we see this happen.
Steve & Josh arrive at Calalzo station, where they find most of the other teams. Jon and Kelly are not there of course because they opted for a slow bus instead of a quick cab ride. Dave & Jeff leave the pit stop and quickly get to the rafts and hurry to the station. They know that they came close to being eliminated during the last leg and want to have as few mistakes as possible. At the station, Reichen & Chip arrive and say that Josh and Steve are their enemies. I agree with them. Steve & Josh are evil. My how time flew by, itís already 2:42 a.m. and Tian & Jaree have left the pit stop. By this time, Russell & Cindy have finally gotten on the snow rafts.
This is where things start to get good. Over at the bus station, Monica & Sheree tell Reichen and Chip that some of the other teams are trying to get rid of them because they are two strong males, along with Dave & Jeff. They specifically mention Steve & Josh as the camera shows them being evil. Reichen & Chip decide that just because there is a line for the bus station, they donít want to wait in it. They then proceed to move Steveís bag and hold onto the doors at the bus station. Steve tells them that his bag was there while Reichen & Chip really donít care. I admire this, and love the fact that they are doing it. Josh & Steve say it isnít fair what they are doing, then Reichen & Chip state it wasnít fair for them to reserve tickets for Steve & Dave over them and Monica & Sheree at the Swiss Air terminal during the first leg. That is such a valid point, Iím glad they brought it up. I also love how Steve & Dave donít say a word because they also know itís true. All this drama and it seems like everyone is getting a little snippy. Just then, Russell & Cindy get to the station. Tian & Jaree finish with the rafts. At this point, a bus shows up and they find out that itís going to the train station with the earlier train, so everyone gets on board, ending the standoff.
Tian & Jaree get to the Calalzo station where they see Jon & Kelly Ė and nobody else. By this time, all the other teams have boarded a train to Venice. The other two teams see one another on the train and know something is up because they are the only two teams on that train. Cut to the first train arriving at Venice station. They all frantically get to the route marker where they find a detour.
A detour is a task a team must complete in order to get to the next route marker. They must choose between two tasks, each with their own pros and cons. In this detour, teams will have to choose between Waterway and Pathway. Waterway has each team board a gondola, cruise the river streets of Venice with only a map, and find the next route marker without asking for directions. Pathway would have the teams running through the streets looking for the next route marker, but they are allowed to ask for directions. It may be strenuous on the legs, but they are pretty much guaranteed to find someone that will show them the way.
Every team from the first bus chooses waterway except for Millie and Chuck. They see all the other teams boarding the gondolas and decide it may be easier for them to just do pathway since they are good runners. Meanwhile, Josh & Steve are in their gondola with Josh saying that he knows exactly where they have to go. Ugh, you said the same thing in L.A., Josh, when leaving Dodger Stadium, yet you were not the first team to the airport. Dave & Steve are just having fun as their gondola driver is passing everyone.
Millie & Chuck look frustrated but are still running around the streets of Venice asking people where to go. Dave & Jeff seem to know where the route marker is, but their gondola driver cannot make a turn and has to go back the other way. This is bad luck because everyone behind them can turn around easier. Chris & Amanda, who were in the back, are now in the lead. Chris still tells Amanda she sucks. Iím really starting to not like this guy. Why doesnít Amanda curse him out like she did those drivers on the Interstate in the first leg. We know she has a potty mouth, might as well put it to good use.
Chuck & Millie find someone who knows where the plaza is. They graciously follow the lady to the next route marker. Hmm, I guess pathway was the better of the two choices. Millie & Chuck beat every team on the gondolas. They must get to the Palazzo da Mosto, where they will attend a party at 5 p.m. (though they donít know about the 5 p.m. part Ďtil they get there). Amanda & Chris get the next route marker, with Jon & Al right behind them. Steve & Josh arrive there next, followed very closely by a pack of teams including Monica & Sheree, Reichen & Chip, Russell & Cindy, and Dave & Jeff. Dave & Steve bring up the rear.
Back on the other train, Tian is telling Jaree that they canít beat Jon & Kelly in a foot race. Jaree disagrees and thinks that Tian is only saying that she is slow so that it will make her look better. Jon & Kelly are really enjoying the fact that Tian & Jaree are having it out. Their train finally gets to the station and both teams head for the detour. Tian & Jaree quickly choose waterway, while Jon and Kelly go for pathway. Both teams seem to be confused. It must suck not having all those other teams in the water to follow. Doesnít matter to Tian and Jaree though, they are enjoying themselves in Venice. I guess as long as they donít stop for coffee again itís all good. They finally get to the route marker, while Jon and Kelly seem to be lost. They seem to be doing a lot of arguing, but soon find the route marker and move on to the next task.
As the teams rush to find that the party doesnít start until 5:00, they realize that everyone is going to be on an equal playing field. Even Tian & Jaree catch up with everyone, as Kelly states that, ďEven the blondes beat us here.Ē I love Kelly, she is so cute! Steve & Dave know they need to rest, and decide it would be better just to go for the fast forward. Iím glad they are taking my advice. In my preview article I stated that they should go for it early in the race, and pray for a good start on everyone else. I hope this works for them.
To claim the fast forward, they must go to one of the plazas and perform in a Commedia, which is basically street actors. At some point, the fast forward will show up, and they must claim it. They begin to do the skit and it seems that Steve has to be operated on. Dave comments that they are taking out all these body parts like Steveís brain. Dave didnít even know Steve had a brain because he never uses it. I love these guys. They are like the Gutsy Grannies, in male form. Falling apart, but having fun. They claim the fast forward and proceed to the next pit stop at Citta di Padova, on a boat docked on the plaza.
All the other teams are sleeping outside of the party entrance as Steve & Dave get to the pit stop and check in as the first team to arrive. They seem happy enough, and I wouldnít say it was a waste of the fast forward. They are not in the best physical shape, and it looks like they have a nice buffer over the other teams. Back at the party, the doors open up and the teams face their first roadblock.
A roadblock is a task that only one team member can complete. They must choose the member before the task is read. The person doing the roadblock must take a photo from the doorman, enter the Polotso, and find the person that matches their picture. The problem: many of the people look almost exactly the same, and the room is filled with people who are all walking around. If they find the right person, they will receive the next route info envelope. If they give their picture to the wrong person, that person will take the picture and walk away. If this happens, the racer must go back outside and wait in line. Only four people are allowed in at a time.
Russell, Josh, Monica and Chip are the first four to enter the room because some of the other teams saw they had a long time to wait and wandered around rather than claiming a place in line. They are frantically looking for the person that matches the picture they each have. Josh seems to rush it, and gives the picture to the wrong person. He has to go back outside. Jeff is the next one in. Chip finds the right person and receives the next route marker. It tells him to head to the pit stop, and the last team to arrive will be eliminated. Tian heads into the roadblock while Russell finds the right person. Wow, that was quick, Tian has found the right person too. Jaree was right, she WAS perfect for this roadblock. Jon from Jon & Kelly goes in and so does Chris. Jeff and Jon both find the right person and are on their way. Millie enters the roadblock. Then we have Chris who has handed it to the wrong person because he was too quick to finish. Back of the line. Al is the last one to enter, and Josh goes in for his second try. He is successful. Josh & Steve begin their run to the pit stop. Chris goes in again.
Speaking of the pit stop, Reichen and Chip arrive there to find out they are the second team to arrive. Jon and Kelly are third. What a comeback, I love this team. Despite being on the second train, and one of the last teams to the detour, Jon & Kelly still come in third place. They definitely have staying power. Back at the roadblock, Monica is STILL looking. She was one of the first teams in there and seems to be having problems. Sheree is wondering what happened to her. Chris gets rejected again, and goes in for his third attempt. Tian and Jaree check in at 4th place and Dave and Jeff are team number five. Good for Tian and Jaree, they had a nice comeback as well. Iím sorta proud of them. Millie completes the roadblock, as Jon & Al check in the pit stop in 6th place. Russell and Cindy check in as team number seven. Now this frustrates me. They were one of the first teams to complete the roadblock and still come in seventh. I donít think this team races well at all. Every time they have a lead they lose it, they make poor decisions at every turn, and Russell insists on treating Cindy like she has no clue what she is doing. They are not going to last long at all.
Apparently, by the grace of God, Millie and Chuck get to the pit stop. They are in 8th place. They say they have to trust God and hustle more. Iím not going to touch that one. Chris and Monica are still struggling with the roadblock while Steve & Josh check in as team number nine. They donít look thrilled, and Iím not either. I want them to be eliminated. Monica finally finds the right person, and Chris is right behind her. My favorite part: race to the pit stop! Monica & Sheree are asking for directions, while Chris & Amanda are using a map. Which strategy will work? Shots of teams racing, shots of Phil waiting, shots of pit stop, shots of crazy Italian guy that is greeting the teamsÖ itís Monica and Sheree! They find out they are 10th, and basically shouts of praise and joy. JoAnna from Survivor would be proud. I love Monica & Sheree, they are definitely sentimental favorites.
Chris yells at Amanda to hurry. They make their way to the pit stop. After stepping on the mat, they find out they are the last team to arrive and that they have been eliminated from the race. I decide that I love Amanda because of her foul mouth. I also decide that I donít like Chris because heís a jerk. Amanda says she is tired and Chris says he is tired as well, but it still sucks to be eliminated. Yeah Chris, nobody has taken such a fall since Pat and Brenda went from first to last in the first season of the show. You two managed to do it as well. Chris says he had the opportunity, but the worst part is knowing the opportunity is gone. Amanda says Chris is a jerk, but she still loves him. Chris says nothing. Hmmm, fade to black.
Next week, we find out that Millie has bad athsma, but wonít let it stand in the way of being aggressive when Chip tries to pull a fast one on her, not to mention a 1200 foot tower that will ďsend people over the edge.Ē My final thoughts? Chris & Amanda got what they had coming. Chris was too hard on that girl, and Iím sure it affected their racing ability. Monica & Sheree are probably regretting using the fast forward now that they are in last and will have to play catch up. Hopefully, the gap isnít that big. Steve & Dave did a smart move in going for the fast forward, I think they are safe for the time being. I thought Tian & Jaree were toast this week, and I was wrong. Who will go next week? I have no idea, but Iíll say Russell and Cindy, only for the fact that I think they are terrible racers. See everyone next week!
Phil Kural is a senior at Temple University, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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