The Race moves from Africa to Sweden – home of supermodels, giant bales of hay, the Nobel Peace Prize and Lisbeth Salander. Even cooler – the Race moves to the Arctic Circle for the first time. I love when it travels to parts of the globe not yet visited. The downside is they have to go during the warmest time – one would imagine production wanted it to be fairly easy to get around, and not have Racers constantly wrapped up in parkas. What we get is a somewhat silly leg, also chock full of great character moments, intrateam fighting, comebacks and downfalls.
The drama of the leg was established from an unlikely source – production’s attempt to cut down on the airport drama some of us loved in past races. I miss the crazy airport shuffle – some classic Race moments were found in the scramble to find tickets – The Guido’s Rome Blockade, The Gutsy Grannies’ Bizarre New York detour, David/Jeff’s Long Australian Nightmare, Colin vs. Mirna, Uchenna’s Million Dollar Plead, and so on. In recent editions, the show has even taken to providing tickets to Racers in places like Ghana where travel plans are difficult. I hate that.
Except for this week – the throwaway line by Phil, a line often ignored by Racers, that they could keep the ticket or try to upgrade actually led to…wait for it…Racing!!! Credit to Team YouTube for remembering that this is an actual Race and seeking out better flights. They manage to get a better flight from the connection city (Frankfurt) which saves them about 90 minutes. And for a team that just escaped via non-elimination and has a Speed Bump to perform, those 90 minutes could be a lifeline.
In a very wise move, even though unsure if they did it for the wise reason, YouTube shares the info with Garlory. They claim it is a parent/child team bond. I viewed it as a smart move because if you are taking the chance with different flights, with a tight connection, take another team with you. This way, if you get screwed, you have someone to compete against to avoid last place.
As it turns out, KNat was in the internet lounge finding the same flight. QVC realizes what they were up to and kick themselves for not doing it as well. The doctors share the info, so all four teams are on the early flight. Team Gryffindor utilizes the Princeton degree (almost – skipping graduation for the Race, and missing cap and gown fittings at that very moment) a bit too late as they notice some teams are not hanging out and sharing all information with each other. In the cbs.com video, the guys mention they didn’t like how it became a real race. Seriously? Why did you guys come on the Race? Why not just blow off graduation and take a Eurotrip? At least you’d get some beer out of it.
So the result is that four teams are in the lead, and five teams are lagging behind. Those four teams in front also manage to successfully navigate the challenges ahead with little problem, while the Back Pack (tm David/Mary) struggled mightily.
Roadblock – Teams have to operate a dog sled and help keep Buck, Fang and other dogs in shape . Michael, Claire, and Kat do it flawlessly, while Mallory just makes a small error, but does it with style. The rest are barely seen. So far so good.
Speed Bump – It has come to this. They just made them sit down for 10 minutes. Granted it was on a giant block of ice, and Michael got to share his Alternating of Butt Cheek Discipline (ABCD) with us. But still, it was about sitting. Best part – the roaring fire on the TV.
Detour – Here is where the fun began. The first group managed to do it fairly well – Mallory and Kat fell on their first downhill run on the Swedish Snow Lawn Chairs with Skiis (seriously, that’s what it looked like to me) but recovered quickly enough. Meanwhile, knowing his dad would have trouble with the physical challenge, the guys wisely elected to construct a tent and bed contraption. It was slow going, but they had a big lead and survived to fight another day.