An ex­clu­sive chat with the Amaz­ing Race Canada champs

24 Hours Toronto - - Front page - MARK DANIELL POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Sea­son 5 cham­pi­ons of The Amaz­ing Race Canada, Sam and Paul, both agree that the hard­est chal­lenge in this year’s edi­tion of the pop­u­lar re­al­ity series hap­pened in Tues­day night’s fi­nale.

And it wasn’t scal­ing the side of a build­ing in Que­bec City or dan­gling along­side a wa­ter­fall — both of which hap­pened in the fi­nal episode.

“I think the hard­est chal­lenge over­all was the puz­zle one in the fi­nale,” Paul Mit­skopou­los says. Teams had to put to­gether a puz­zle of Canada and match up past chal­lenges to the cities in which they oc­curred. “I think the amount of stress ev­ery team was feel­ing was in­tense be­cause who­ever got that puz­zle done fastest was go­ing to win the race and I wouldn’t say puz­zles is our spe­cialty.”

“Plus Ivana wasn’t help­ing things by stand­ing over there and cheer­ing on Korey,” med stu­dent Sam Lam­bert adds. “It af­fected Paul. Ev­ery time she’d cheer, Paul would say, ‘Did you hear that?’ And I had to keep telling him, ‘Don’t worry, we got this.’”

Go­ing into Tues­day night’s fi­nale against Ken­neth and Ryan and Korey and Ivana, Sam and Paul, a twen­tysome­thing couple from Toronto, knew they had the most to lose af­ter be­ing the per­ceived front-run­ners through­out the sea­son.

So best friends Ken­neth and Ryan (a.k.a. Team Give’r) knew their mar­gin for er­ror was slim if they hoped to win the race.

“We knew it was go­ing to be a heated fi­nal and we knew we couldn’t make any mis­takes; es­pe­cially against Sam and Paul be­cause they were dom­i­nant for the sec­ond half of the race and they didn’t make many mis­takes,” Ryan says. “We knew if we were go­ing to win, we were go­ing to have to be fast and ef­fi­cient.”

Ivana says she and Korey tried to make sure of one thing: find­ing a sta­ble ride.

“One thing we re­ally tried to do dif­fer­ently was make sure we got into a good cab; a cab that un­der­stood us and a cab that would stick around for the day,” Ivana says. “Sam and Paul had been killing it. We knew we couldn’t let them get even five min­utes ahead of us.” Af­ter The Amaz­ing Race

Canada kicked off in July with 10 teams, none of the fi­nal­ists were sur­prised at the pairs that were left stand­ing in the fi­nale.

“Up un­til the point where (Mon­treal sib­lings) Adam and An­drea were elim­i­nated, I think it was any­one’s game,” Ken­neth says. “But once they got sent home I was pretty sure it was go­ing to be th­ese three teams. It was a long shot for me to think Karen and Bert were go­ing to make it, but they al­most did.”

“Dur­ing the race, both Sam and I thought that any one of the other teams could have been in the fi­nals,” Paul adds. “They were all so strong. But we’re not sur­prised it was Ken­neth and Ryan and Korey and Ivana.”

In an ear­lier post-elim­i­na­tion in­ter­view, Ed­mon­ton’s Karen and Bert seemed in­trigued by the idea of Team Give’r and Korey and Ivana team­ing up early in the fi­nal leg to elim­i­nate Sam and Paul.

But Ryan says the teams didn’t think about form­ing an al­liance.

“We started with a bang, we wanted to end with a bang,” he says.

“It didn’t cross our minds that they would team up,” Paul ad­mits. “I think at that point, you’re so fo­cused on the end that the thought of team­ing up with an­other team isn’t top of mind.”

All of them agree that win­ning The Amaz­ing Race Canada takes a tremen­dous amount of skill, but Sam con­cedes that there is an el­e­ment of luck that af­fects the out­come of ev­ery leg.

“I would prob­a­bly say 40-50% of it is luck,” he says. “I think you need to set your­self up to do what you can us­ing your prior knowl­edge and skill, but there are some chal­lenges where there’s a lot of luck in­volved. Like the chal­lenge of find­ing the queen bee in a hive of bees.”

“I ac­tu­ally think luck was a big­ger deal,” Ivana chimes in. “For Korey and I, get­ting the right cab was so im­por­tant. When we were in Bangkok, we had 10 cabs drive right by us — that’s pure luck. That was our biggest fear go­ing into the race — the un­con­trol­lable fac­tor and the luck fac­tor.”

“But Sam and Paul and the Give’r boys ran a clean race in terms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and that is so es­sen­tial,” Korey in­ter­jects. “That’s skill, not luck.”

Strat­egy is a far big­ger com­po­nent in de­cid­ing the out­come of a leg on The Amaz­ing Race Canada, Sam says. “(New­found­land cousins) Me­gan and Court­ney not us­ing their fast pass was def­i­nitely a bad move; an­other one that sticks out is with Zed and Shab­bir and the surf­ing chal­lenge in Bangkok. That was a chal­lenge I felt you could ei­ther do or not, and I think Shab­bir wanted to make it hap­pen and they stayed there a lit­tle too long.”

“But I don’t blame Court­ney and Me­gan for not us­ing the ex­press pass, be­cause they wanted to save it for when the con­test got tougher,” Korey says.

De­spite win­ning the $250,000 grand prize, which will help pay for Sam’s med school tu­ition, the Toronto couple will have to wait un­til next sum­mer to take ad­van­tage of a va­ca­tion that came with be­ing crowned Amaz­ing Race Canada champs.

“I will have a couple of weeks next sum­mer,” Sam says. “So we want to go some­where in the South Pa­cific, so Hawaii, maybe Fiji.”

Jon Mont­gomery hosts sea­son 5 of The Amaz­ing Race Canada. At left, Sea­son 5 win­ners Sam and Paul.

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