Season 17: Episode 4 - Connor and Jonathan Crash in Sweden
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am

Teams raced from the furnace to the freezer in Swedish Lapland where Nat & Kat soared into first place, Michael & Kevin used their airport skills to keep them in the race, and Connor & Jonathan crashed on a mountainside and were eliminated on their college graduation day.

During the Pit Stop, the nine remaining teams returned to the Asebi D/A Primary School to help with renovations where the school children greeted them with a song. Picking up brushes, the teams took a break from the race to put a fresh coat of paint on the school that so generously hosted them in the previous leg. Mallory said, "It's nice to be able to give something for them [the students]." Rachel added, "This experience definitely puts things in perspective. We are so fortunate."

Departing the Pit Stop in first place at 10:15am, Ivy League a cappella singers Connor & Jonathan ripped open their clue instructing them to fly 4,500 miles from the furnace to the freezer, the city of Kiruna in the area known as Swedish Lapland. Due to limited flights out of Ghana, teams were given tickets on the same flight to Kiruna, but were under no obligation to use them. Landing inside the Arctic Circle, teams had to drive to the nearby town of Jukkasjärvi, home to the world famous Ice Hotel. In summer, the 10,000 tons of ice used to make up the hotel are kept frozen in nearby warehouse where teams would find their next clue.

With their college graduation, a landmark event they had to miss to run the race, set to take place during this leg, Ivy League a cappella singers Connor & Jonathan arrived at the Accra Airport where they waited to check in for the Lufthansa flight provided to them in the clue. Soon, the other teams began to congregate at the check-in line, believing no better options for flights existed.

Departing the Pit Stop in last place, father and son Michael & Kevin borrowed a cell phone from their taxi driver to call about earlier flights than the one provided in the clue. With a Speed Bump looming over them, Kevin & Michael looked to gain an advantage to keep them in the game. Kevin learned that, in the connecting city of Frankfurt, there was a flight departing over two hours earlier, that would get them into Kiruna two hours ahead of other teams. To try and get tickets on this connecting flight, Kevin was told by the agent to go to the Lufthansa office rather than the check-in line.

Walking into the airport, Michael & Kevin decided to flag down father and daughter Gary & Mallory and reveal their information about the earlier flight. Kevin later cited the parent-child bond both teams have as the reason he felt comfortable confiding in them. When Gary found out they all could get a two-hour advantage, he said to Kevin & Michael, "You got a Speed Bump. You gotta get this." The only potential flaw in the plan was a very tight connection to make the earlier flight when they landed in Frankfurt. To actually purchase the tickets, the two teams enlisted Miss Kentucky Mallory who used her southern charm to persuade a male agent into helping them. When the agent came back with four tickets, Mallory joked, "I'm so glad I got blonde hair."

Meanwhile, doctors Nat & Kat broke away from the large pack of teams waiting at the check-in counter and discovered the same earlier flight at an Internet café. Noticing the doctors leave, home shopping hosts Brook & Claire decided to follow because they trusted the doctors' researching skills. Seeing Brook & Claire enter the café, Nat & Kat decided to share the flight info with the home shopping hosts because, according to Kat, "They're sort of more positive and giving us positive energy." Both teams secured tickets on the earlier flight knowing that the connection in Frankfurt would be tight.

Noticing Mallory and Kevin acting suspiciously excited about something, Connor & Jonathan decided to investigate for themselves. At the Lufthansa counter, the Ivy League a cappella singers were told all earlier flights were booked. However, the pair surmised that the other two teams had somehow gotten on an earlier flight. An anxious Connor said, "This is the worst graduation."

Landing in Frankfurt, the four teams with tickets on the earlier connecting flight ran through the airport knowing a potential two-hour cushion on five other teams was at stake. Brook & Claire wisely employed the services of a transport vehicle to get them there but Michael & Kevin, the team who needed this flight the most, took a "short cut" in a slow elevator and almost missed getting to the gate. However, the father and son barely made it and to join the other three teams who now landed in Kiruna two hours earlier. Realizing four teams had an insurmountable lead, Connor & Jonathan fretted, "It's so scary. We're now in a five-way sprint to not get last."

Doctors Nat & Kat and home shopping hosts Brook & Claire took the early lead out of the airport in Kiruna when father and daughter Gary & Mallory and father and son Michael & Kevin made a wrong turn. The two female teams arrived together in first place at the warehouse for the Ice Hotel and ran inside where they found giant blocks of ice with Swedish writing etched in them. Teams had to figure out that the clue etched in the ice would lead them to Fjellborgs Lodge.

Coming into the warehouse moments behind the two lead teams, father and daughter Gary & Mallory picked up their massive block of ice while father and son Michael & Kevin faced a Speed Bump, a task that only they had to complete for having been spared elimination in the last leg. In this Speed Bump, the father and son had to sit on furniture made from blocks of ice for ten minutes before continuing on the race.

As the other three teams took off in their cars searching for Fjellsborg Lodge, Michael & Kevin took a seat on the frozen furniture and soon realized that the task would be more difficult than they had anticipated. As he writhed around in discomfort, Kevin noted, "It feels like needles are sticking into my butt cheeks." Keeping his sense of humor, Michael joked, "I wish in Ghana we had this chair." After enduring the misery for ten minutes, Michael & Kevin happily stood up, lifted their clue etched in the massive chunk of ice, and quickly got directions to the lodge.

With the three lead teams making a wrong turn in the wooded and unmarked roads outside of Kiruna, Michael & Kevin vaulted into first place at Fjellsborg Lodge to find a Roadblock. In it, one team member had to use a summer training sled to mush a team of snow dogs down a forest trail along the way snatching five different flags hanging above them that they could trade for a shipment of fur pelts. For every flag missed, teams had to perform a penalty lap around the hunter's camp. Then teams had to lead their dogs back to the start of the course where they could exchange the pelts for their next clue.

Michael excitedly jumped on a sled and began to lead and encourage his pack of dogs through the course. With Mallory, Claire, and Kat now in hot pursuit, Michael reached up and grabbed each of the five colored flags before guiding his sled of eager and well-trained snow dogs to the hunter's camp where he exchanged the flags for pelts. Returning to his proud son at the lodge, Michael exchanged the pelt for the next clue instructing him and Kevin to drive through the Swedish countryside to the Vassijaur Train Station. Getting into their car only moments ahead of the other three teams, Michael told Kevin, "You missed all the fun."

As the front four teams raced to the Vassijaur Train Station in a heated battle for first place, the five teams battling to avoid last place finally landed in Kiruna. All five teams caravanned to the warehouse and successfully retrieved the block of ice containing their clue. However, in driving to the lodge, dating couple Jill & Thomas fell behind the other four teams and arrived in last place. To further compound their problems, the couple then missed the marked path to the Roadblock, running aimlessly through the woods as Connor, Nick, Stephanie, and Katie all jumped on dog sleds to begin the task. An astute Jill told Thomas, "It looks like we're running into nowhere." As the couple turned around to retrace their steps, Jill brought up the idea of using the Express Pass, but Thomas calmly replied, "We don't need to panic yet." Finally, when the pair found the lodge, Jill mushed the barking, eager dogs and completed the task quickly, but she and Thomas still remained well behind in last place. On the drive to the train station, Thomas conceded, "We may have to pull out our Express Pass to bypass people."

Arriving at the Vassijaur Train Station in first place, father and son Michael & Kevin opened their clue to find a Detour having to choose between Sleds and Beds. In Sleds, teams had to make their way to the top of a nearby mountain and use an extreme sport gadget known as a techsled to speed down a difficult course. If both racers didn't finish in under one minute and fifty-eight seconds they had to return to the top and try again. In Beds, teams made their way to an encampment of Sami people who are descendants of the earliest Scandinavian nomads. Then, using traditional materials, teams had to build a tent-like dwelling known as a goahti. When the structure was completed and the interior made comfortable for sleeping, teams would receive their next clue.

As Michael & Kevin went off to build a tent over concern about Michael's physical abilities on the slopes, Nat & Kat, Brook & Claire, and Gary & Mallory all hopped on the ski lift ready for an adventure on techsleds. Arriving at the top of the mountain first, Nat & Kat geared up and began racing down the steep course on the techsleds trying to beat the time of 1:58. However, the doctors soon found that along with the thrills of speeding down a mountain came the potential dangers. Nat later remarked, "It was so fast and so icy and the turns were so sharp that pulling on the brakes didn't do much at all." While Nat hung on to complete the course in 1:47, Kat jumped the side of a snow wall and crashed into the safety netting needing help to get untangled. On their second attempt down the mountain, both doctors completed the course in less than 1:58 to finish ahead of Brook & Claire and Gary & Mallory who also needed to run the course twice after Mallory missed the qualifying time by one second. Opening their clue, Nat & Kat discovered they had to drive to the Pit Stop at the Norwegian border.

Doctors Nat & Kat held onto their lead leaving the Detour and stepped on the mat in first place at the Norwegian Border. For their efforts, the doctors won a trip for two from Travelocity to Belize. On their performance, Kat said, "We are a team to be reckoned with. We want to be the first women to win The Amazing Race." In a close footrace, Gary & Mallory took second place while Brook & Claire settled for third.

As Michael & Kevin completed their goahti to end the day in fourth place, Connor & Jonathan, Chad & Stephanie, Nick & Vicki, and Katie & Rachel all made their way to the top of the mountain to test their athleticism and balance on the techsleds. While the Ivy League a cappella singers made enough blunders and crashes to force a second try, Stephanie's overwhelming fear and anxiety as she struggled to finish the course stood out as the weakest performance on the mountain thus far. Waiting below, an incredulous Chad muttered, "It's not that bad. She's letting her head get to herself." When Stephanie finally reached the bottom of the course, she burst into tears telling Chad, "I'm sorry, I can't. I gave it a shot. I tried." Unbeknownst to Chad & Stephanie who decided to switch tasks, last place dating couple Jill & Thomas stood in the Sami encampment alone seeing no other teams and handed over their Express Pass believing they would have been out of the race if they took the time to build the tent. Jill & Thomas finished the leg in fifth place just ahead of dating couple Nick & Vicki who easily glided down the icy mountain to claim sixth place.

While Chad & Stephanie slowly constructed their tent, Ivy League a cappella singers Connor & Jonathan took a second attempt down the mountain with even worse results than the first time. Although Connor managed to make it down relatively unscathed, Jonathan tumbled and crashed more than enough for both of them. Jonathan later joked, "Saying that Connor is better at the sledding than I am is a gross understatement." Ascending the imposing mountain in the ski lift for a third attempt, Jonathan complained, "This is killing me."

Matching Connor & Jonathan's performance on the techsleds, beach volleyball partners Katie & Rachel proved their athleticism and agility didn't translate to the snow. While Rachel flew off the course into the protective netting, Katie hit a bump and bounced off her techsled altogether. The pair reached their breaking point when one more bounce sent Katie crashing in the snow and her techsled sailing off the side of the mountain into the abyss. Rachel deadpanned, "I guess we're gonna go switch."

The third time wasn't a charm for Connor & Jonathan as Jonathan once again floundered and tumbled all the way down the course. Jonathan later said, "The sled and I did not agree and it was becoming truly painful." Reaching the bottom in a time exceeding four minutes, Jonathan joked, "Who wants to make a bed?"

Having made progress in building their tent, Chad & Stephanie got a huge burst of energy when they saw Katie & Rachel and Connor & Jonathan run into the Sami encampment. After lighting the campfire, placing the bedding and rocks in the tent, Chad & Stephanie cheered when a Sami villager handed them their clue. Referencing their tough afternoon on the mountain, Stephanie told Chad, "I'm sorry I disappointed you." Chad insisted that she didn't let him down as the newly dating couple finished in seventh place.