After their winning streak was snapped during the fifth leg of Amazing Race Canada, Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson were looking to rebound. With the sixth leg taking the remaining teams to the historic city of Winnipeg, the challenges would take on more of an urban flavor. Compared to the fifth leg, the wilderness of the Yukon tested the physical limits of all the competitors.
Beginning at the Royal Canadian Mint on Lagimodiere Blvd, hand and eye coordination would be essential. As the commercial crown corporation has produced circulation coins for countries the world over, all competitors had to grab a box consisting of foreign circulation coins. By examining the coins, attention to detail paid to the name of the country on the coin’s obverse, the next step was to find the corresponding flag. Of note, the RCM displays all the flags of its clients.
Once again, Spooner and Mikkelson set the tone, finishing first. In attempting to put more distance between themselves and their competitors, a cab ride would test their patience. Stopping at a railway crossing, a train that seemed to be carrying an infinite number of railway cars only helped their competition buy some valuable time.
Eventually reaching their next clue, there was an option to engage in an event known as the Fast Forward. Having been introduced for the first time during the second season of Amazing Race Canada, successful completion allows the team to skip the remaining challenges and proceed immediately to the pit stop. Should the Fast Forward yield a negative result, the participating team would need to return to the very first challenge in that leg of the race. Of note, one team would engage in the challenge, having to find seven famous billboards in the city’s downtown core and then filling in the blanks on a paper.
Instead, Spooner and Mikkelson opted for the roadblock. Having to choose between the option of Skate It (gracing the ice at MTS Centre, home of the Winnipeg Jets) or Stuff It (preparing perogies, a popular staple food in the Prairie Provinces), it was inevitable that the hockey heroes would opt for the former. Donning Jets jerseys, the two were on the ice at MTS Centre, aiming to successfully shoot the puck through five targets after navigating a series of pylons.
After successfully converting on four targets, a dire series of misses would provide other teams with the chance to catch up. While the remaining competition assumed that Spooner and Mikkelson would have cruised through the roadblock with ease, it came as great surprise to see them still on the ice. Of note, two teams would not only catch up to the hockey heroes, but surpass them. One team converted the five targets in nine attempts, while French Canadian twins Pierre and Michel (whom were the recipients of an Express Pass from Spooner and Mikkelson in the fifth leg) achieved success in 11 attempts.
Taking into account that Mikkelson suffered an injury to her wrist at the Sochi Winter Games, the effects of the injury and the slow recovery are still taking its toll. Mikkelson would hit the fifth and final target after 57 attempts. Viewers did not see Mikkelson take all 57 attempts, therefore, it would be easy for a Reality TV cynic to dismiss that a gold medalist in women’s hockey would endure so much frustration.
Even if the 57 attempts are fact, Mikkelson showed great courage, battling through a painful wrist, while maintaining her composure, a strong sign of dignity and sportsmanship. Considering the fatigue and emotional strain from a grueling hockey camp and exhibition schedule in preparation for Sochi, Mikkelson can be forgiven if she showed signs of a little rust.
Sadly, the 57 attempts became the subject of scorn and ridicule on social media. Jokes such as “make sure the American do not know about this” became the norm the following day. The hash tag #FiveHoleFail also became popular. One well-known newspaper chain in Canada could not help but write about it, almost indulging in a sadistic chronicling of such failure. Whether it is just the typical knee-jerk reaction to tearing down heroes, even Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan had their off-days.
Reaching the famous watering hole Whiskey Dix on foot from MTS Centre, the final challenge in the sixth leg would place Spooner and Mikkelson out of contention. Pierre and Michel would use their Express Pass to skip the challenge, making their way to the Pit Stop first, located at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
Trying to stave off elimination, Spooner had to perform a rock song in front of a group of eager music fans at Whiskey Dix. Donning a blonde wig and leopard-skin tights, she would channel the musical aura of female punk rockers such as Deborah Harry, Patti Smith and Wendy O. Williams. Unfortunately, Spooner would struggle to remember the song’s lyrics (which plagued other competitors), being booed off the stage.
Although Spooner would memorize the lyrics and earn the needed applause from the crowd in order to move on to the pit stop. Finishing in fifth, Spooner and Mikkelson were sullen, as a strong start could not sustain them through the remainder of the leg. Upon reflection, the Fast Forward option may have been more feasible, as Spooner and Mikkelson have proven to be equally analytical as athletic. Although they managed to proceed to the seventh leg of the race (to be contested in Normandy, France), Winnipeg proved that no lead is secure and that no team (including our hockey heroes) cannot be taken for granted.