Sunday, 24 August 2014

Emotional experience in Normandy overshadows impact of Amazing Race for Spooner and Mikkelson

After a fifth-place finish in Winnipeg, Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson were hoping to return to their winning ways with the seventh leg of the race. To the surprise of all the competitors involved, the next leg of Amazing Race Canada took them overseas.

Travelling to Normandy, France in an episode titled “Lest We Forget”, the leg would provide all competitors with a unique first-hand experience of Canadian history. Part of six teams that were still in the Race, Spooner and Mikkelson arrived at the Boulard Calvados distillery first.
Offering to compete in the roadblock, Mikkelson was working with a mathematical formula to remove a sample of apple brandy from one of the hundreds of barrels in stock, working towards achieving a 40 per cent alcohol content. Mikkelson’s struggles allowed other teams to catch up and eventually by-pass them.

Mikkelson would re-group and realize that the problem was that she was not using the same size tools as were shown in the demonstration. Opting for the smaller tools, Mikkelson would successfully dilute the apple brandy to its desired 40 per cent.

Despite the setback, first place was still within reach. Heading into the next aspect of the race, competitors had the option to show it or tell it. The show it option involved a complex braiding of a red ribbon into a horse’s mane. Spooner and Mikkelson opted for tell it, reviewing the Bayeux Tapestry. Working quickly, the two managed to rearrange a scrambled series of artistic tiles on their second try.

Back in first place, the third challenge of the day was one that provided fun and distraction. Spooner and Mikkelson were on the beaches of Asnelles, participating in landsailing, a mutually new experience. Despite the landsail tipping over, Spooner and Mikkelson were jubilant as they extended their lead.

Afterwards, the remainder of the race’s leg took on a very serious and emotional tone, as Spooner and Mikkelson arrived at Normandy’s Canadian War Cemetery. Reading a plaque that indicated the efforts of Canada’s soldiers in Normandy, Spooner was teary-eyed on the way to the next leg of the race. As a side note, all competitors experienced emotions when they arrived at the War Cemetery.

Expanding their lead, Spooner and Mikkelson delivered a poppy to a waiting soldier standing in front of the Remembrance and Renewal Statue. From the Juno Beach Centre, Natalie and Meaghan arrived at the Pit Stop at Juno Beach, where they met surviving war veteran Jim Parks. Spooner and Mikkelson both hugged Parks, thanking him for his service.

While host Jon Montgomery and the hockey heroes acknowledged that Parks was a true hero, there is no question that Parks’ sacrifices helped set the stage for future generations to create their own legacies and become heroes in their own way. Spooner and Mikkelson are part of a generation of accomplished women providing young girls with a remarkable group of role models to look up to. For that, Parks will eternally deserve our gratitude.

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