John Paul Filo/CBS
October 25, 2010 08:00 AM

When you are the last-place team, starting more than two hours behind the leaders, the pressure is on. You have to perform, or go home. You must keep hope alive, avoid mistakes, and support each other even when things look bleak. What you hope for is an incredibly tough leg, that other teams struggle, or a flight to another country. Anything that gives you a chance to catch up if you work hard.

That was the challenge that Katie and Rachel faced on Sunday’s leg of The Amazing Race. The eight remaining teams traveled from the Pit Ssop in Lapland to Narvik, Norway, where a scenic gondola ride to a Route marker directed them to Skjombrua Bridge. There at the Roadblock, one team member rappelled from the bridge, grabbed a clue, and then used a mechanical ascender to pull themselves 130 feet back up. From there, teams drove to a remote field in Harvika where the Detour choices were boats or bikes. Teams had to either direct a trawler captain to a designated location where they hauled two cod and a chain saw to a summer lodge at the top of the mountain, or ride mountain bikes along a grueling route to get a combination to unlock their next clue. The Pit Stop awaited at Ankenes Marina.

Though Katie and Rachel were in last place, they were only 22 minutes behind Chad and Stephanie at the start – so the race to avoid elimination came down to the two of those teams. It must have been really frustrating for Katie and Rachel, though, because even though they kept hopeful, were supportive, and handled the tasks with ease, they could never make up any of that time. They arrived to the gondola as Chad and Stephanie leave. They got to the bridge, as Chad and Stephanie leave. Their boat crossed Chad and Stephanie’s boat during the Detour task. They needed Chad and Stephanie to make a mistake, but they would not oblige. Other teams made huge mistakes (like Jill and Thomas getting lost and Nick and Vicki going for a Fast Forward), but those teams were so far ahead that it did not matter. It seemed like Katie and Rachel were doomed from the start.

The closest thing to a mistake by Chad and Stephanie was their decision to do the boat task. When you know you are racing to avoid elimination, why would you choose to put your fate in the hands of a trawler captain? The word “trawler” sounds slow. But the only thing I can fault Katie and Rachel for is their choice to do the same boat task. For a team as athletic as Katie and Rachel, why didn’t they do the bikes? You can’t pass a trawler by taking a trawler yourself. You never know if a different choice would have made a difference, but since Katie and Rachel were never that far behind and the bikes proved much faster, I think it could have at least resulted in a foot race to the pit stop.

Chad and Stephanie found themselves in the same situation Katie and Rachel were in this leg. As Stephanie put it, “We know how quickly this game can change. We can go from last to first. I really think we can if we try hard.” Well, that was not true for Katie and Rachel. They tried hard. They were just doomed. Chad and Stephanie will not be doomed though. They got a bunching point flight to Russia.

My favorites this week were Nat and Kat and Nick and Vicki. Nat and Kat are really prepared to win. Nat overcame her fear of heights without hesitation. And Kat overcame 22 years of vegetarianism and did something Terrence could not in season 13 – she downed a sheep head. And this was the week where Vicki really shined! Not only did she attack the mechanical ascender, but she rocked on the mountain bikes even though Nick – the BMX biker – had to stop and walk. What I love about Nick and Vicki is how accepting they are of their own weaknesses and their tenacity to avoid elimination. It was fun to watch them shine on a leg that was finally well suited to their strengths.

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