Emotions rise to the surface for Mikkelson and Spooner in tenth leg of Amazing Race Canada

After a disappointing third place finish in Montreal, Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson were hoping that the tenth leg of Amazing Race Canada would provide them with their seventh victory. Heading to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, the birthplace of Canadian Confederation, there was strong feelings of patriotism.

Such feelings were quickly accompanied by fatigue as the first challenge in the tenth leg of the race would prove to be exhausting. The historic Red Shores Racetrack and Casino would set the backdrop for a unique version of harness racing as one team member would grace blinders, pulling their partner for two tiring laps. Spooner and Mikkelson held the early lead but stopped in order to switch positions. It would allow another team to overtake them and finish first past the finish line.

Proceeding to Confederation House, where a decision was reached to unite Britain’s North American colonies in 1864, leading to the formation of Canada, the historic landmark was the site of the first road block. Titled “Who’s Your Daddy?”, Mikkelson would take the challenge.

Teams had to consult individuals outside the building, dressed in 1860s outfits to obtain the names and defining features (such as facial hair or paraphernalia) of the fathers of Confederation. Once all the names were memorized, contestants went inside to view a historic reenactment in the Confederation Chamber.

Having to identify the individuals representing each delegate represented in Mikkelson engaging in a difficult struggle. While all teams struggled in this road block, it would allow other teams to not only catch up to Mikkelson and Spooner, but to overtake them. Mikkelson’s Achilles Heel was the identification of Charles Tupper.

Unfortunately, she kept calling him Tapper. After one of the costumed individuals outside pointed out her error, she would successfully complete the road block. Upon completion, Spooner and Mikkelson found themselves in last place for the first time in the competition.

Headed towards the birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery in New London, Spooner and Mikkelson employed a never say die attitude. As some other competitors were lost along the way, the hockey heroines advanced into third place. Outside the historic house, they found the clue for the Detour: Mussels or Mass. The Mass option involved calculating the total weight of 10 million potatoes. On the other hand, the Mussels choice resulted in stripping 1,800 pounds of mussels off their stalks.

Like the rest of the competitors, Spooner and Mikkelson opted for Mussels. Despite their last place status, they quickly got back into the thick of the race. Outpacing the other competitors, their quickness left the others in awe. Their ability to bounce back was testament to their peak physical condition.

While the brother and sister combination of Sukhi and Jinder finished first, Spooner and Mikkelson were quickly on their trail. Both teams race towards the Pit Stop, which was located at the Farmers’ Bank of Rustico. Along the way, tensions became evident as the hockey heroines were not happy with the behavior of the siblings. Stopping at a gas station for directions, they saw Spooner and Mikkelson’s car approaching. Pointing to the right (in an overstated way), they attempted to confuse them. Not deterred, Spooner and Mikkelson turned left, heading in the right direction.

Both teams would arrive at the Bank of Rustico at the same time as Sukhi and Jinder beat the hockey heroines by mere seconds to win their second consecutive leg in the race. At the Pit Stop, Mikkelson could not hold in her emotions any longer. It was evident that Mikkelson had a look of anger and disappointment on her face, which host Jon Montgomery asked her about.

Venting her frustration, Mikkelson said that the siblings’ trying to point them in the wrong direction was just cheap. Talking about winning the right way, Mikkelson had every right to be upset. The siblings would rebuff by gloating as to how the hockey heroines were mad that they were in second. While it may be no consolation for Spooner and Mikkelson, the siblings would have likely acted that way towards any of the other teams trailing them.

Obviously, winning two consecutive legs has led to feelings of grandeur among the siblings, only intensifying the rivalry. From the very beginning of the race, Spooner and Mikkelson have been targets of jealousy due to their sporting exploits. Having always shown grace and class, even in losing, the hockey heroines will only use this as motivation to continue and be the exemplary competitors that have made them the team to beat and admire.

Strong season for Chicago Bliss culminates in second straight indoor football championship

For the second consecutive season, the Chicago Bliss held off pressure from Western Conference rivals Los Angeles and Seattle to finish in the championship picture. With 2013 Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia having folded in the off-season, a new opponent would rise to challenge the Bliss for indoor football supremacy.

Led by multi-sport star Jodie Nettles and rookie quarterback Dakota Hughes, the Atlanta Steam would grab the Eastern Conference crown in only their second season. In addition, head coach Dane Robinson would earn Coach of the Year honors. Defeating an ambitious Jacksonville squad led by two-way threat Saige Steinmetz, the Steam were hoping to complete their dream season by overcoming the defending league champs.

Once again, Heather Furr established herself as the heartbeat of the club. Known affectionately as Rockstar, her poise relieved the burden of pressure that accompanies high expectations. Complemented by the veteran presence of Chris’Dell Harris on the Bliss’ offensive attack and Kim Perez anchoring the defense, their 5-0-1 mark paced all teams in female indoor football.

Quarterback Heather Furr proudly shows off the Legends Cup in center field of Chicago's famous Wrigley Field (Image obtained from Facebook)

Quarterback Heather Furr proudly shows off the Legends Cup in center field of Chicago’s famous Wrigley Field (Image obtained from Facebook)

Of note, Harris finished as the league’s rushing and receiving champion. Her 621 rushing yards was more than double the amount of yards accumulated by runner-up Saige Steinmetz (who ran for 305 yards). Leading all Bliss players with eight touchdowns (four receiving and four rushing), she was a key reason that the club outscored opponents by an average of 30.3 to 18.3 points. In addition, the club posted impressive marks of 63% on third down conversions, followed by a remarkable 86% conversion on fourth down.

By season’s end, Bliss players finished in the top five of all six major statistical categories (passing, rushing, receiving, tackles, sacks, interceptions). Despite the Bliss adopting more of a rushing game, Heather Furr finished as the third-ranked passer in the league.

Kim Perez, who tied with teammate Yahshi Rice for the league lead in sacks (Chantel Taylor would rank fourth), also finished second in league play with three interceptions. Atop the leader board in tackles was Dominique Collins, recording 29.5 tackles. Not far behind was Rice, ranking third in tackles.

The road to the championship began with a May 9 match against Los Angeles, one of the first dynasties in indoor female football. A 25-21 win on home soil was followed by a rare occurrence. Hosting the Seattle Mist, another title contender, the contest ended in a 34-34 draw.

Travelling to Las Vegas for the third match of the season, the Bliss managed to overcome rookie sensation Sindy Cummings and prevailed with a hard-fought 27-18 victory. This was followed by the renewal of their storied rivalry with the Green Bay Chill on July 23.

Unfortunately, the rivalry lost a distinct feeling with the absence of quarterback Anne Erler. As a side note, Erler and Furr were teammates on the Saskatoon Sirens. Competing against another rookie quarterback, the Bliss made a strong statement, emerging victorious in a convincing 32-7 win.

After a 3-0-1 regular season, the Bliss travelled to Ontario, California for the Western Conference title game against Los Angeles. With LA looking for their fourth title in franchise history, they were hoping that home field advantage would work in their favor. After defeating their rivals, the Seattle Mist, they were not able to overcome a well-rested Bliss team. A 40-12 victory for Chicago was a victory worthy of their status as an elite club.

Returning to Ontario for the championship game against Atlanta on September 6, it would prove to be a hard-fought match. Only holding a two-point advantage at halftime with an 8-6 lead, Chicago would manage to hold on for a nail-biting 24-18 tally after four quarters of play. While the Steam played valiantly, they managed to earn the respect of fans and foes alike, a significant accomplishment.

The second straight title solidifies Furr’s legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in female indoor football. It was no surprise that she was one of four finalists for the inaugural indoor female football Hall of Fame. Along with the impact of the Chicago Force in the Women’s Football Alliance, the Bliss have contributed to a remarkable period of female football in the Windy City, which may be unrivaled for years to come.

Third season opener of Total Divas welcomes Rosa Mendes

Drama, the obligatory gossip and relationship tensions proved to be the defining feature in the third season opener of Total Divas. Most of it revolved around the newest cast member to the program, Rosa Mendes. Beginning where WrestleMania XXX left off, the newest chapter in the lives of the WWE Divas features the comeback of the aforementioned Mendes. Having returned from a rehab stint, a new physical look complements her emotional recovery. Nattie Niedhart (the first Diva who welcomes back Mendes) quickly notices that Mendes underwent plastic surgery.

Of note, Mendes was not the only diva to show a sexier side. Eva Marie set hearts racing, adorned in black lingerie and white swimwear, engaging in a series of portraits with her husband. Having been invited to the marriage of Brie Bella, she wants to appease her parents with a wedding ceremony, after eloping. The logic behind her sexy photo shoot is to utilize one of them for a Save the Date invitation.

Showing the fellow divas the finished product, several of them are shocked that she would consider using the photos. Employing great bravura, she proceeds by showing said photos to her family. Despite their own shock, her mother and father are ecstatic that she wants to have her own wedding day.

Sadly, Eva Marie’s jubilation would quickly turn to desolation. With her husband refusing to participate in a ceremony in a Catholic church, it is compounded by the sad discovery that her father may be struggling with cancer. Despite such news, her husband refuses to show any empathy and participate in a Catholic ceremony, adding tension to their marriage.

Relationship woes would emerge as a theme in this episode as Nicole Bella faced her own challenges. As tensions over having children with her partner (and multiple WWE champion) John Cena continue to plague their relationship, Nicole undergoes the decision to have her eggs frozen, in the hopes of giving birth at a later time. With the support of her twin sister Brie, whose wisdom and maturity comes across, Nicole begins the first stage of her treatment.

Despite sneaking around to get a blood test with a nurse at her home (while Cena is with an interior decorator is at Cena and Nicole’s home), eventually, Cena discovers some medical supplies. While it was the opening episode’s cliffhanger, it certainly brings into question whether Nicole should consider making a fresh start in order to make her dream of motherhood come true.

Throughout such turmoil, an unlikely working relationship has sprouted. At the request of Mark Carrano, the WWE’s Senior Director of Talent Relations, Nattie has been asked to ensure Rosa Mendes has a smooth transition back to WWE, part of which includes being her roommate on the road. Much to Nattie’s surprise, her first experience on the road was quite the eye opener. Entering a Chicago hotel room, she was surprised to find Mendes in a complete state of undress.

While Mendes stated in the video confessional that she is very comfortable being nude, Nattie did not share such enthusiasm. Although Mendes covered up, such an event clearly establishes them as the new odd couple in the WWE. Taking into account Nattie’s leadership and her reputation as a good worker, she will certainly be engaging in a significant challenge. Mendes certainly has the qualities of a narcissist and her goal of being taken seriously as a wrestler will definitely require the support of Nattie.

Such support was evident in Mendes’ return to the ring as she endured feelings of worthlessness. A pair of Divas was engaging in some backstage gossip about Mendes’ abilities in the ring, stating “Get the popcorn”, a hurtful remark. Wrestling against Nattie in her first match back, it was obvious that there was some ring rust. After the match, Nattie attempted to console Mendes, who could not hold back tears. As Mendes looks to climb back to a position of relevance in the Divas division, her comeback (along with how Nattie can help her) shall certainly be a significant aspect in this new season of Total Divas.

Fair play in Paris provides Spooner and Mikkelson with sixth win in Amazing Race Canada

After an emotional journey in Normandy, the eighth leg of the Amazing Race Canada continued in France. Headed towards Paris, Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson were the first to leave towards the train station. With six teams remaining, Spooner and Mikkelson were among the first three teams that arrived in Paris, looking for the first clue of this leg in an episode titled, “I said yes!”.

Hockey heroes Spooner and Mikkelson at the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris, reading the details of the Detour. (Image obtained from: Spooner and Mikkelson serving patrons at the "Plat du Jour". (Image obtained from: http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada.aspx)

Hockey heroes Spooner and Mikkelson at the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris, reading the details of the Detour. (Image obtained from: Spooner and Mikkelson serving patrons at the “Plat du Jour”. (Image obtained from: http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada.aspx)

Traveling towards the world-famous Arc de Triomphe, the first clue awaited the competitors at the Place du Canada, which featured busts of Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain, famous French explorers who helped discover Canada. Said clue offered competitors the option to compete in “Haute Couture”, visiting a fashion school and replicating a dress with a collection of pre-cut fabrics, or “Plat du Jour”, a food service option.

Spooner and Mikkelson would opt for Plat du Jour. Traveling through the city’s streets, they had to find traditional cafés with outdoor signs featuring a small flag displayed. The flag would allow the competitors to find one of three traditional French food items that the teams had to find. Upon retrieval of all three items, it had to be served to a group of hungry individuals, who would provide teams with their next clue.

Spooner and Mikkelson serving patrons at the "Plat du Jour". (Image obtained from: http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada.aspx)

Spooner and Mikkelson serving patrons at the “Plat du Jour”. (Image obtained from: http://www.ctv.ca/TheAmazingRaceCanada.aspx)

While other teams were struggling, Spooner and Mikkelson were highly organized, moving swiftly through the streets finding the necessary items and quickly jumping into first place. Perhaps more impressive was the next leg of the race and the approach that Spooner and Mikkelson utilized.

The infamous U-Turn became a part of the race for the first time. It allows a team who gets there first to pick another team who must complete both parts of a detour before continuing on. Spooner and Mikkelson refused to U-Turn any of the contestants, stating that they wanted a fair race.

Arriving at the next stage before the rest, Spooner and Mikkelson encountered a challenge that paid homage to the artistic legacy of Paris. Teams had to recreate a painting using approximately 1400 Mentos candies of different colors. The candies would be placed on a board as patience would prove to be the most useful tool in completing the precise task.

Expressing her love of candy and claiming to have the world’s biggest sweet tooth, Spooner gladly undertook the challenge. Her hand-eye co-ordination was evident as she employed the analytical skills that enable her to read defenses on the ice to finish the task in less than two hours.

As a side note, during the time that Spooner was recreating the artwork with Mentos candies, other teams had caught up to them. Naturally, the other teams believed that they had a chance to overtake the hockey heroes. Once again, Spooner made it look easy, as the other teams were still deciphering how to recreate the piece while she and Mikkelson grabbed their backpacks and proceeded to the pit stop.

With their sixth win in eight tries, Spooner and Mikkelson have been nothing short of dominant. The hockey heroes would win an Air Canada premium service flight to any destination in Europe, along with another $3,000 on their Scotia Bank Gold Cards. With jubilant smiles that could not be erased, the feeling of pride and accomplishment was clearly evident. The true victory on this leg for them was the respect they earned from fans and viewers alike, setting a positive example with fair play and good sportsmanship.