'The Amazing Race Canada 2' Episode 1: Skydiving, scones and a penalty

Marianne Dowling, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:46 PM ET

The teams of the second season of The Amazing Race Canada are off and running and proving to be as diverse as the Canadian landscape we’ll see them trekking across over the next three months.

Make no mistake, if the head of the United Nations, for whatever reason, was left in charge of casting season 2 of TARC, these are the teams he would choose.

French, English, gay, straight, white, black, brown, urban, rural. Throw in a couple of Olympians, identical twins, a famous ballet dancer and two long-haired hippie dudes from Ontario’s Cottage Country and the only major groups missing are the seniors contingent and those guys who are obsessed with My Little Pony.

Even with such an interesting crew, there are always some teams that stand out more than others, thanks mostly to some of the silly things they say, their competitiveness in the race and, of course, some fancy editing.

This season, the premiere episode belonged – personality wise – to five teams. They were the best friends Mickey Henry and Pete Schmalz; Team Canada Olympic hockey players Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson; ballet star Rex Harrington and his fiance Bob Hope (seriously); mother and son team Cormac and Nicole Foster and Muslim best friends Shahla Kara and Nabeela Barday.

The rest of the teams, including twin brothers Pierre and Michel Forget; brother and sister duo Sukhi and Jinder Atwal; married couple Laura Takahashi and Jackie Skinner; husband and wife Jen and Shawn King; couple Alain Chanoine and Audrey Tousignant-Maurice; and bartending buddies Ryan Steele and Rob Goddard all got a little screen time – but because there was more drama elsewhere – they’ll have to wait another week to endear themselves to us.

So let the game – and Chevy Tahoe product placement – begin!

The race kicked off in Jasper, Alta., in the majestic Rocky Mountains where all 11 teams lined up with host (and former Olympian) Jon Montgomery. Their first clue sent them to “North America’s fastest zip line” in Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park, via, you guessed it, those borrowed Chevys which, in all honesty, got almost as much screen time as bartenders Ryan and Rob.

The zip line looked like a lot of fun, and judging by Rex’s “Mother of Cher!” scream as he whizzed across, it lived up to its world-class reputation.

But the zip lining was tame compared to what the teams were expected to endure next: A flight on Air Canada Express. Hey – I kid. Actually that flight took them all to Victoria, B.C., where one person from each team had to jump out of a plane in tandem at 12,000 ft. This was the first “Roadblock” challenge of the season.

“You’re all strapped to a guy,” Bob explained to Rex before getting on the plane to skydive.

“That’s the only reason I’d want to do it.” Rex replied. Zing! Put these guys on tour.

While Olympians Natalie and Meaghan are faster and stronger than many of their opponents, it turns out, Nat doesn’t like to be higher. Her nerves get to her while waiting to jump out of the plane, and she threw up on the floor. Then she jumped and – lookout below! – she threw up in the air too. After making her descent, she bookended her skydiving experience perfectly by barfing on the beach.

“You should have done this one,” she said to Meaghan between heaves.

Meanwhile, back at the Calgary airport, Pierre and Michel were trying to fight off the advances of Shahla and Nabeela, who flirted with the twin butchers by asking if they “do Halal meat.”

After stomachs settled down, it was off to a much more refined destination – Victoria’s Empress Hotel for the traditional High Tea, which this day, was attended by a lot of middle-aged women wearing lace and ruffles and all those other accessories that make Victorian period costumes so creepy. The challenge? One teammate had to serve high tea and memorize the menu word for word. Items like “Cucumber and ginger mascarpone on butter brioche,” had to be recited to guests, which, under this intense pressure, had the teams wishing they could jump out of a plane instead.

In the final challenge, the teams were expected to fix leaks inside a ship simulator rapidly filling with freezing cold water using hammers, some pothole-type covers and giant pegs. While this confused a lot of the teams, the cold water was too much for Shahla and Nabeela to endure. After toiling away without making much progress, the two took the penalty so they could get medical attention. This was a fatal blow because Shahla and Nabeela were already in last place and became the first team eliminated this season.

"From the moment I said that we need to take a penalty, Nabeela was encouraging, she was supportive and she's a true partner and you only want someone like that by your side," Shahla said in the post-game interview. "We hope we did our families and our friends proud. We're proud of ourselves and that's the most important thing."

On the winning side, first place went to hockey stars Natalie and Meaghan, who were flying ahead of the pack the whole first leg of the race. They are proving to be formidable opponents – and that’s without any ice. Second went to Alain and Audrey, and third to Rex and Bob.

Twitter: @frekna

Marianne.dowling@sunmedia.ca

 


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