By Victor Jih
Updated October 18, 2010 08:00 AM
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Credit: Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

This week on The Amazing Race, the nine remaining teams traveled 4,500 miles from Accra, Ghana, to Kiruna, Sweden, and a remarkably sunny Arctic Circle. They had to find the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi, where they were directed to the roadblock task. One team member led a pack of off-season mush dogs around a course. The detour required teams to either race on an extreme TechSled down a mountainous course or build a tent-like dwelling called a goahte according to traditional specifications.

Michael and Kevin started in last place but easily sprinted to the front half. Nat and Kat started second-to-last, but found their groove and took over first place. Jill and Thomas had a rough week, but made a smart decision to use the Express Pass to prevent elimination. Connor and Jonathan, however, fell from first to last.

How did things go so wrong so suddenly? They started with a substantial lead, yet immediately found themselves in what one team aptly called a “five-way sprint to last.” Their mistake came at the beginning. Connor and Jonathan started over an hour ahead of every other team. Instead of taking advantage of that lead and looking for the earliest flight to Sweden, they relaxed at the airport terminal. The two last place teams – starting over three hours after they did – were able to find an earlier flight and take all the seats. The Ivy-leaguers did not manage to learn a fundamental rule of the game – if you’re not racing, you’re losing. Composing a new song for Phil Keoghan was amusing, but something you can do after the leg is over.

My favorite moment of the episode was the look of mortal fear on Connor’s face as Nick chased him down on the mush-dog sleds, screaming, “I’m coming Connor. I’m coming baby. I’m gonna get you!” If Nick had gone to Princeton with the singers, he may have known not to ask a cab driver in Ghana to drive you to the Arctic Circle. But Nick is a competitor. As Vicki explained, Nick may not be “mental” but he is “physical.” And he never stops competing no matter how bleak the circumstances. It sometimes felt like Connor and Jonathan were having too much fun instead of racing. While their lightheartedness was what made the pair endearing, it led to their elimination.

Eight teams remain and two alliances are forming. Michael and Kevin have the familial bond with Gary and Mallory. Brook and Claire ally with Nat and Kat, because they both are always looking to “make a plan.” The numbers are dwindling, though. And the pressure is only going to increase. It will be interesting to see how long these fledgling alliances last and how much of a difference they make. Time will tell.

TELL US: Nat and Kat want to be the first woman team to win. Do they have what it takes?