By People Staff
March 08, 2010 12:00 AM
Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

And on the fourth leg of the sixteenth edition of The Amazing Race, the team called Louie and Michael finally found focus and finished first. This week, the eight remaining teams started from Estancia Fortin Chacabuco in Bariloche, Argentina, only to reach a “bunching point” at the airport as they prepared to jump continents to Hamburg, Germany. The beauty of the bunch is that it resets placements, allowing all teams to start even, before they tackled the tandem bungee, the World Cup 2010 and Sauerkraut Polka detours, and “Drink the Boot” at Haifischbar. Louie and Michael took advantage and reached the pit stop at Indra Club in unfamiliar first place. Steve and Allie found their groove with a second, second-place finish. Bottom-dwellers Dan and Jordan and Brent and Caite stayed in the back-of-the-pack, while Jeff and Jordan tumbled to last place — only to be saved by a non-elimination leg.

So what happened? Many will say that this leg was determined by taxicab luck. Jeff and Jordan ended up in last place because their taxicab driver did not know how to use a GPS device and took them miles out of the way. Jet and Cord were in first place, until they could not find a taxicab. And Louie and Michael had an easy time of it with a sassy taxicab driver named Edga. But to me, this leg had nothing to do with taxicabs. Taxicab luck affects everybody — it is something you expect and have to manage.

This leg was about alliances. Even before the reappearance of the intersection, the teams were already in natural couplings: Jeff and Jordan had their favorites in Brent and Caite; Carol and Brandy love Dan and Jordan; Joe and Heidi bonded with Steve and Allie; while Jet and Cord and Louie and Michael found themselves with no one else. Every pair of pairs worked well together at the intersection, but all make the mistake of separating too quickly. Each team picked opposite detours. Jet and Cord would not have gotten lost if they had stayed with Louie and Michael. Brent and Caite and Jeff and Jordan would have fared better had they stayed together. As the old saying goes, you don’t need to outrun your friend until the bear starts chasing. Until then, working together reduces the chance of a mistake; and if you do make a mistake, the other team is good insurance. People remember my biggest mistake as getting lost in the hills of Romania. But that wasn’t actually my biggest mistake. My biggest mistake was not waiting for Christie and Jodi. Instead of tackling the vampire detour together, I raced ahead to try to gain an advantage, only to get lost for hours. There was no reason to race ahead by ourselves so early in a leg. Mel (of Mel and Mike) understood that. When we had to traverse the subways of Moscow (which did not air), we took Mel and Mike with us. I said it was so we could work together; Mel said it was so we could outrun them if we both get lost. We were both right. But the alliance worked.

Beyond alliances, the honor for biggest mistake of the week is shared by Carole and Brandi, Dan and Jordan, Joe and Heidi, Steve and Allie, Brent and Caite, and Jeff and Jordan. Every one of you left the start before Louie and Michael, and yet only Louie and Michael (the last place team) managed to get on the first flight to Germany with Jet and Cord. How did you let that happen? We may never know. But by letting Louie and Michael get on that first plane, the other teams gave away first place.

Tell us: Is Louie and Michael’s rise to the top going to be short-lived? Can Jeff and Jordan overcome the speed bump or will next week going to be an hour-long march to the inevitable? And how many of you — like me — would have had a more difficult time drinking the boot than taking the bungee jump?Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic