Twists, turns and a surprise ending on reality show finale
Scavenger hunt helped underdogs take top prize after stumping front-runners
Trying to keep up with teams competing in the Amazing Race is no easy feat. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster ride, full of unpredictable twists and turns.
On assignment earlier this year, I was paired up with a driver to shuttle me around Banff and report on the action. After watching some of the final teams compete in mountain challenges, we chase Taylor and Courtney Callens (a brother-sister duo who are Mounties) down a mountain and eventually make our way to Banff Avenue.
Here, the teams’ final challenge for the season — which was aired Tuesday night — involves them searching Banff ’s glut of gift shops for trinkets that represent the 11 separate legs of the season. Over five weeks of the race, the teams travelled to Victoria, B.C., Cavendish Beach, P.E.I., Dawson City, the Yukon, Mexico City and Jakarta, Indonesia, among other spots. Each challenge was to be represented by a trinket hidden among 10 stores down Banff ’s main drag.
Granted, watching people frantically search for souvenirs is about as exciting a spectator sport as it sounds. I spend a good part of it with publicists and producers sitting on city benches, occasionally going into the stores to dodge the cameras following the teams up and down the aisles in the cramped stores. We studiously avoid questions by perplexed tourists about why camera crews are chasing these sweaty duos through the stores.
Still, thanks to some creative editing, the segment is much more exciting on TV than in person. And it was truly a turning point. The teams are to end the challenge at the Banff National Park Administration Building where they were to put the objects they found in the stores in the correct order of the legs, whether it be the Indonesian flag or a figurine representing the game Jai Alai, which the teams played in Fronton, Mexico.
This is where Calgarians Courtney Berglind and Adam Kovacs take the lead. The Callens, who had a nice head start from the Calgary airport challenge, fell behind when they failed to find one of the 10 stores along Banff Avenue and, therefore, had to retrace their steps to find a sole missing trinket.
Taylor Callen doesn’t mince words when asked what it felt like to place second after winning so many legs.
“It sucks,” he says.
From there, the teams traversed across the Bow River and took a raft to a designated spot on the golf course. That was followed by the mad dash through the greens to find host Jon Montgomery. It was also the site for the surreal spectacle of the 14 eliminated extroverts being coached by a series producer on how to appear more extroverted. For more than an hour, they are run through the paces: how to best cheer the winning team, the best way to do a high-five, the best way to laugh uproariously just in case one of the winning teams says something funny on the mat.
It is, after all, a television show, no matter how spontaneous it is meant to look. At the time of this interview, Berglind and Kovacs said they planned to keep that sense of spontaneity. They had no intention of giving family and friends any hint of how they fare on the series, which began airing in early July.
“We want it to be as much of a ride for them as it was for us,” Kovacs says. “This is our surprise and it’s our win. We want them to go through the emotions with us.”
Calgary first responders Courtney Berglind and Adam Kovacs hunt for souvenirs in a Banff store during the finale of Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition.
Calgary’s Courtney Berglind and Adam Kovacs not only take home $250,000, they also win two SUVs and a trip around the world.