TORONTO—The second leg of “The Amazing Race Canada” turned on a shoulder.
Fortysomething Halifax married couple Jen and Shawn King were the second team to be eliminated from the reality-show sprint after a surfing challenge left Shawn writhing on the beach, a bone protruding prominently through his skin.
Though he valiantly tried to correct the situation via sheer force, he ultimately had to be carted off to a hospital and the sweetly supportive King couple’s race came to an end.
Otherwise, hundreds of Pacific Rockfish weren’t the only thing turned inside out during another coastal episode, this one marked by a series of nefarious challenges that left teams frenzied and frustrated.
In an exact reproduction of the first week’s results, endlessly capable Olympians Meaghan Mikkelson and Natalie Spooner won the leg—scoring a pair of plane tickets to Hong Kong, where they were apparently about to go anyway—while Montreal couple Alain Chanoine and Audrey Tousignant-Maurice bickered their way to a solid second.
In a grim sense, Shawn’s injury granted an unlikely reprieve for engaged couple Rex Harrington and Bob Hope, who eked through the week despite doing the unthinkable: quitting on back-to-back challenges and thus accumulating a monolothic six-hour penalty.
That said, none of the 10 duos really coasted through a series of stiff challenges in breezy Tofino, B.C. Touted here by host Jon Montgomery as the “tree-hugging capital of the world,” this destination cut down even the most confident teams.
The first stop was at Ucluelet Harbour Seafoods Ltd., for a detour with two options—one of which soon proved so frustrating it rendered the prospect of slicing 30 pounds of fish (often oozing a bright custardy yellow sludge) comparatively appealing.
On paper, the other challenge—which required the duos to sort 1,000 pounds of Pacific Rockfish into five different bins according to their species—seemed the more civilized of the two options, which explains why most teams instantly chose it.
But distinguishing between the fish soon proved difficult and frustration was in boundless supply. Alain for a while wondered if the fish could be sorted based on whether their mouths were open (they couldn’t), while Terrace, B.C., brother-sister duo Sukhi and Jinder Atwal initially attacked the challenge with confidence imbued by their mutual biology degrees.
“Our biology background is helping us NOT AT ALL,” Jinder concluded a short while later.
“I know every fish in Ontario but I have no idea (about) ocean fish. (I’m) kind of a fish out of water right now,” quipped the unflappable Pete Schmalz, to the visible delight of partner Mickey Henry.
Pete and Mickey soon changed course and switched to the other fish-cutting challenge, a decision duplicated by many teams.
Still, some duos eventually cracked the fish-sorting riddle, including Toronto married couple Laura Takahashi and Jackie Skinner, Sukhi and Jinder, the Kings and Bob and Rex, despite requiring 10 attempts to do so and—in a bit of foreshadowing—reaching the precarious edge of their collective nerves.
“If we’re not right, Bob, I’m changing,” warned Rex as their final attempt was inspected by a stoic woman who had nine times prior rejected them.
“Quiet!” responded Bob.
As they peeled out in victory, Rex took a parting shot at the poor inspector: “Ugh, she was evil.”
While the fish challenges hooked all the teams to some degree, the next Road Block—which required one member of each team to successfully surf for three seconds while being videotaped by his or her teammate—proved devilishly divisive.
Mickey, who looks (and, honestly, speaks) as though he could have surfed out of the womb, mastered the challenge on his first attempt. Terrebonne, Que., twins Pierre and Michel Forget—who share in common a background in competitive skiing, along with seemingly everything else—as well as Jackie and Audrey also quickly mastered the challenge. And Meaghan’s inevitable competency was archly anticipated by other teams.
“Hockey players are here—she probably has a gold medal in surfing,” muttered Rex, his eyes rolling like a wave.
While Jinder also required many attempts to complete the challenge, no team struggled to the degree of Rex and Bob, who took turns failing at the task. Eventually, they gave up and accepted the penalty.
The next Road Block required one member of each team to assemble a “traditional Tofino beach chair” entirely out of fishing nets and driftwood, and it was here that the hockey players truly earned their first-place finish.
While the other teams could only gape in slightly jealous wonder, Natalie stitched together a cottage-worthy chair with a speed and attention to detail that bordered on excessive.
“My chair looks horrible compared to Natalie’s,” lamented Alain.
Still, an artisan’s craftsmanship wasn’t essential to survive this particular challenge.
“I’m bringing it to the judge, but I would not sit in my chair. It looks very uncomfortable,” Alain said of his creation, which was actually deemed acceptable.
And yet, Rex and Bob—perhaps too drained of patience from their surfing misadventure to make an honest attempt—were again stymied.
Still, if their physical edge was dulling, their tongues remained sharp. As soon as Rex even saw the instructions for the challenge, he waved his hand and left it for his partner, sighing: “That’s it. See you later. Have fun.”
As Bob struggled, Rex’s irritation grew. At one point, he marvelled, “I can’t believe you can’t do it,” before later cracking: “I should just walk out into the water and never come back.”
When they gave up and accepted a second penalty, they must have seen the end coming. But unbeknownst to the former ballet star and his longtime partner, Shawn was at the time sedated in a hospital bed while doctors popped his shoulder back into place.
Kind and encouraging to one another even while they struggled this season, the Kings were again sanguine when informed of their elimination. Though Jen called the decision to abandon the race “one of the toughest” they had ever made, Shawn underlined that they didn’t really lose—they simply stopped.
“‘Sorry to tell you you’ve been eliminated from “The Amazing Race”‘—for a split second, I thought: ‘That’s the coolest thing anyone’s ever said to me,” said Shawn.
Meanwhile, the clemency offered to Rex and Bob by the Kings’ elimination left the couple vowing to summon new levels of moxie when facing future challenges.
“No more giving up, taking penalties,” Rex insisted. “We are going to fight on. We have to do it for them.”
Indeed, the preview for the season’s third episode depicted the pair putting their dukes up, Bruce Lee-style, during what promises to be “The Amazing Race Canada”‘s first-ever international sojourn.
Hong Kong awaits, and so too the opportunity for those of us at home to see more fish out of more water.