Three Coloradans com­pete in “The Amaz­ing Race”

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By John Wen­zel John Wen­zel: 303-954-1642, jwen­zel@den­ver­post.com or @john­wen­zel . Watch videos of the Colorado con­tes­tants at the­know.den­ver­post.com.

“The Amaz­ing Race,” the ven­er­a­ble re­al­ity show that pits two-per­son teams against each other in a global dash for $1 mil­lion in prize money, re­turns March 30 with a trio of Colorado con­tes­tants.

Boul­der rock climb­ing in­struc­tor Becca Droz, Univer­sity of Colorado drum ma­jor Floyd Pierce and Den­ver-based pro­fes­sional snow­boarder Matt Ladley will rep­re­sent the Cen­ten­nial State in the 29th sea­son of the Em­my­win­ning show — which starts with a twist this year.

None of the 22 con­tes­tants know each other, break­ing with the show’s tra­di­tion of fam­ily-and­friends teams com­pet­ing against one an­other. Con­tes­tants will in­stead be paired after com­plet­ing a chal­lenge to de­cide the or­der for pick­ing a team­mate, based on noth­ing but first im­pres­sions, ac­cord­ing to CBS.

That’s not nec­es­sar­ily a rea­son to panic, said the Colorado con­tes­tants.

“I was def­i­nitely sur­prised to hear of the twist, but I was ac­tu­ally in some ways re­lieved be­cause my ul­ti­mate dream was to be on the show with my big brother David,” wrote Droz via email. “But after spend­ing a cou­ple trips with him I learned that my best self doesn’t come out with fam­ily, so I was ex­cited to travel the world with a new friend.”

Liv­ing in Colorado, with its di­verse ge­og­ra­phy and thin air, gives our home-state rep­re­sen­ta­tives an ad­van­tage, Boul­der stu­dent Pierce said.

“That makes us bet­ter run­ners,” he wrote via e-mail this week. “Also, Colorado peo­ple are the most out­doorsy and ad­ven­tur­ous types of peo­ple.”

Pierce has been a fan of “The Amaz­ing Race” since sixth grade — when his el­e­men­tary school held an “Amaz­ing Race”-themed map race.

“We had to go up and down our halls and find clues,” wrote the High­lands Ranch na­tive. “After that, I looked into go­ing on the show, but it was hard be­cause I had to wait nine years. When I turned 21, I im­me­di­ately tried to get on the show.”

It’s a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion with Droz, whose long­time fan­dom brings into re­lief the show’s im­pres­sive longevity. Droz be­lieves her love of rock climb­ing and ski­ing — as well as be­ing “a to­tal goof­ball” who beat-boxes and freestyle raps — will serve her well in the emo­tion­ally gru­el­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

This year’s sea­son cov­ers 17 cities in nine coun­tries for a to­tal of 36,000 miles trav­eled, in­clud­ing stops in Panama City (the very first des­ti­na­tion), Tan­za­nia, Nor­way and Greece, ac­cord­ing to CBS.

“I saw my first episode when I was 11 years old,” Droz told The Den­ver Post. “I cre­ated my dream, then and there that I was go­ing to be on (the show). It wasn’t even a ques­tion on my mind if I was suited for this. I was im­me­di­ately drawn to trav­el­ing and do­ing chal­lenges around the world and get­ting new ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Pro­duc­ers have held au­di­tions for the show in Den­ver for at least the last three years, in­clud­ing at the for­mer Sports Au­thor­ity lo­ca­tion down­town in Jan­uary 2016.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, this year’s con­tes­tants are not the first from Colorado. Most re­cently, moth­er­son team Margie O’Don­nell and Luke Adams com­peted in 2014’s Al­lS­tar chal­lenges, fol­low­ing mem­o­rable ap­pear­ances in Sea­sons 14 and 18.

Colorado roller-derby moms Mona Egen­der and Beth Bandimere also fin­ished in a hard-won third place in 2013.

Any­one root­ing for Colorado’s Pierce, Droz or Ladley can tune in at 9 p.m. Thurs­day, March 30, on KCNC-Chan­nel 4 for this sea­son’s pre­miere.

The cast of Sea­son 29 of the CBS se­ries “The Amaz­ing Race” in­cludes three Colorado con­tes­tants — two from Boul­der and one from Den­ver. In the bot­tom row are Floyd Pierce (sec­ond from left), Matt Ladley (back­ward base­ball cap) and Becca Droz (sec­ond from right). Photos pro­vided by CBS Broad­cast­ing Inc.

Pro snow­boarder Matt Ladley is based in Den­ver.

Boul­der climb­ing in­struc­tor Becca Droz.

Univer­sity of Colorado drum ma­jor Floyd Pierce.

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