Thursday, 7 August 2014

Lessons learned for Spooner and Mikkelson during Yukon leg of Amazing Race Canada

Returning to home soil for the fifth leg of Amazing Race Canada, Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson maintained grace under pressure. Despite being the first to leave from the Statue of Mercy at Macau towards the Hong Kong Airport, all competitors boarded the plane at the same time. This took away the advantage of being in first. When the plane landed at Vancouver, they should have been given a 15 minute head start.

Before boarding the plane, Spooner and Mikkelson had to make the decision of which team they would allocate their Express Pass to. The hockey heroes would show loyalty to the French Canadian twins, Pierre and Michel. Of note, they assisted them in Macau in helping to locate the vendor on Happiness Street in Macau that would provide them with their next clue.

In return for the Express Pass, the twins promised to not U-Turn the hockey heroes on a future leg of the race. Once word got about to the other teams, jealousy and gossip began. One team had the audacity to advise Spooner and Mikkelson that they made a mistake. In the video confessional, Spooner stated that there was drama.

Upon landing in Vancouver, teams headed towards the Sky High Ranch in Yukon for a night of rest. The following morning, breakfast would supply the first clue as a Detour presented the option to "Ride a Sled" or "Make your Bed". Groups had an option of successfully completing several laps with a dog sledding team or assembling a camp site. Taking into account that the camp site was on dry land, it would have appeared as a faster option. Surprisingly, the majority of teams opted for the sled. By the end of the Detour, it would be no surprise that the title of the fifth episode was “Who Designs these Torture Tests?”

Unfortunately, a mix-up in finding the dog tags for the competing dogs supplied a setback for Spooner and Mikkelson. As teams had to untangle said tags, Among a group of competitors that had to return to the cabin to look up the names of the competing dogs, the hockey heroes were included.

Despite the setback, only one team enjoyed any significant time advantage. Of note, another team could not place the tags on the dogs, while another team had their dogs run away. It would not take long for the hockey heroes to get back into contention. Even with Spooner falling out of the sled, her skills as a world class hockey player resulted in quickly running across the frozen surface and returning to the sled.

Advancing to the next leg of the race, the physical attributes of our hockey heroes would prove to be a key factor. Participating on a closed Biathlon course at Grey Mountain, Spooner opted to participate. As the course had dry land, a 5 km bike trek replaced the traditional skiing option. Quickly finishing the 5 km course (of note, biking is a significant part of dry land training for women’s hockey players), Spooner would earn five rounds of ammunition, which would be utilitzed to hit five targets.

Showing the potential for a second Olympic career as a biathlete, Spooner successfully hit the first four targets. Although she would miss the last target, resulting in another 5 km bike ride (so that she could earn another five rounds of ammunition), it would not deter Spooner. Upon receipt of another five rounds, she would hit the fifth and final target with ease, placing the hockey heroes in second overall.

Attempting to climb into first, the final leg of the race consisted of rowing down the Yukon River towards the pit stop. Of note, the pair that was in first were struggling miserably to not only carry their canoe through the forest, but had difficulty navigating the river. Sadly, no comeback was to occur for the hockey heroes. Mikkelson was still struggling to recover from a broken wrist that plagued her at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Therefore, carrying the canoe was a difficult task.

Upon arrival at the Pit Stop, the hockey heroes were in third place. Another team had overtaken them, while engaging in a little trash talking. Saying “Hello Girls” in a sarcastic tone, the two have become villains on the show. Unfortunately, their third place finish was part of a sad day for Canadian women in sport. Of note, Eugenie Bouchard lost a tennis match in her hometown of Montreal while the Canadian Under-20 women’s soccer team lost their opening match of the FIFA U20 World Cup (on home soil no less).

Through it all, the hockey heroes showed tremendous poise, not succumbing to the petty jealousies and trash talking that occurred. Considering that so many teams worry about avoiding last place, the hockey heroes possess so much physical and mental strength that they are always contending for first place.

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