Call it the BodyBreak factor.
After the inaugural season of The Amazing Race Canada became the most-watched series in Canadian history last summer, CTV’s next move was clear:
Double down on the wholesome Canadian celebri-teams.
At the second season’s start line in Jasper National Park on Tuesday night, we met a model-of-diversity cast. But two teams stood out above the rest.
They are Olympic hockey gold medalists Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson, and ballet icon Rex Harrington and his fiancé, Bob Hope.
Reality television game shows used to be the exclusive domain of Nobodies. (Or in many cases, Nobodies whose Hollywood agents told them this might make them Somebodies.) There were no last names, and certainly no household names.
But that’s changing. The most recent Amazing Race season in the U.S. featured a pair of Harlem Globetrotters, who were competing for the second time.
Your reaction as a viewer—Cool!—is likely the exact opposite reaction you’d have if you were a race contestant meeting your world class competitor at the airport.
“I’m up against YOU? An actual Olympian? An actual Olympian with a GOLD MEDAL? AND THERE ARE TWO OF YOU?”
The first leg of the race on Tuesday saw the 11 teams zip line in Calgary and skydive in Victoria, and leading them the whole way were Natalie and Meaghan. Think Germany vs. Brazil, but without the last-minute goal from the Brazilian side.
“I’m afraid of these women,” declared Alain, one-half of a francophone couple from Montreal.
This is Canada. We like our even playing fields. A lot. Two-tier health care? No thank you. Higher taxes on high income earners? Now you’re talking.
But while Natalie and Meaghan and Rex and Bob may find themselves targets in the race, it’s hard to imagine viewers not falling for them.
It’s not just that the women play hockey—although, this being Canada, that counts for a lot. It’s their physical and mental commitment to the race that humbles you from the safety of your sofa.
High above Vancouver Island, Natalie looked out of the airplane she was about to jump from and did what any of us would do—she threw up. But then —then!—she went ahead and jumped anyway, proceeding to puke again when she landed. You have to root for someone who can jump out of an airplane both before and after barfing. It’s in the Charter, or something.
This dedication paid off—the Olympians finished in first last night, snagging the valuable express passes to be used down the road. Rex and Bob came in third, their amusing on-screen antics almost masking how well they performed at each challenge.
CTV’s Amazing Race is expected to leave Canadian borders this time around, meaning we’ll be able to observe the Canuck outside its natural habitat. But one team that won’t be along is Shahla and Nabeela, the best friends from Toronto who crossed the finish line last.
Their elimination from the race means they’ve lost their chance at the $250,000 payout. But the good news is, that’s only about $100 after taxes anyway.