It’s time to push off into leg 7 of this rrrrace around the world, just like Nicole got stone-cold pushed off a 400-foot ledge to, in her mind, plummet toward her death. There were multiple exclamations of “this is the best day of my life” and “I never want this day to end” and “Sebastian is a hunk of Swiss chocolate and mama’s hungry” from just about everyone tonight, except for Nicole who is quite afraid of heights. Because when The Amazing Race heads to Switzerland, contestants must jump off high things; they must rappel off high things; they must climb up high things; they must thrust themselves out from high things; and occasionally, they must receive a light push into a 70 mile-per-hour freefall.
Switzerland was really one hell of a leg, both in its beauty and adventure, and also in its surprising amount of personal conflict. Big Brother themes finally reared their confrontational heads tonight, and unfortunately, it was all fairly pointless.
Leaving Uganda, there is an assumption that there will be a U-Turn on the next leg. So the later finishing teams—Afghanimals, Team Fun, and SisterSister—meet up over a beer before they head to the airport to talk about U-turning the stronger teams. This includes Team Zen, and talk eventually turns to Team Vicole as well, which SisterSister bristles at because they have a Big Brother alliance. They go along with it at the time, but on the plane, Rachel tells Nicole that the other teams are going to try and U-turn them, so they should get there first and U-turn Team Fun…
Team Vicole bristles at that because they think SisterSister might just be trying to get them to do their dirty work for them, and so they ask Team Fun about it. SisterSister bristles at that because now the other teams know they told about the U-turn plan. Neither team makes incredible strategic decisions in this debacle—SisterSister shouldn’t have told Vicole in the first place, and if Vicole didn’t trust the tip, they should have just not taken it—but, if you can believe this, Rachel is quite rude to Nicole about the whole ordeal, which escalates the situation.
And in the end, all this paranoia was for naught because there wasn’t even a U-turn on this leg! But luckily, there was also an excess of humor in this episode to balance out all the drama. From the things everyone chose to scream as they flew through thin air (“I’m still alive!” “Fuuuuu—”) to Team Torey lusting for their (unbelievably hot) river guide, once the teams arrive in Zurich, it’s simply a grand ol’ time. (Y’know, excluding the yelling match at the mat, but we’ll get there—just as soon as we jump off every ledge in Switzerland).
After arriving in Zurich, all the teams board a train to the smaller town of Meiringen. Once there, they have to race on foot for three kilometers to a gorge for the ROADBLOCK: WHO WANTS TO TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE? For the most part, this run and a later drive are where the leg is won and lost because the competitions don’t leave a ton of room for error. In the Road Block, one person from each team must (re: gets to) jump 400 feet into a swinging freefall through a glacial gorge. Even those that aren’t particularly scared of heights like Korey and Becca look a little nervous before the jump, but everyone agrees that it’s the good kind of terrifying in the end.
Well, everyone except Nicole who is terrified of heights and for a moment really seems like she’s not going to do it. But once she consents, the guide gives her a helpful little nudge, and off she goes into the DETOUR: WATER POWER vs. WATER DOWN via a beautiful helicopter ride.
And from there it’s—more heights! On both detours. In Water Power, teams have to ride the world’s steepest funicular—basically a slow roller coaster up and down a mountain—logging the names of eight water basins and the corresponding amount of water they hold so that they can place them on a technical map from memory when they get to the bottom. This would have been much harder if the numbers hadn’t already been written on the map and they’d had to figure out where the loop started, but the Afghanimals and Team Vicole were both able to get it on their first try. I guess that’s okay though, because…
Water Down was kind of a cinch too. Teams each select a river guide (you may have heard of a large man named Sebastian already) who leads them through zip lining, jumping, and repelling their way across a canyon. And frankly, it just looks like a good-ass time—and no, I’m not just talking about Colin’s post-detour flashing (Tyler to Korey: “It’s stunning, but keep your eyes on the road”).
There are three main stretches through the canyon, and at the very end, one member of each team has to jump from a ledge out into the river to grab a dangling final clue to the PIT STOP at MICHAELSKIRCHE. Ultimately, it comes down to a canyon foot race and then a Swiss road race between SisterSister and the Odd Couple, who both struggled with the initial 3K run and fell behind. But what they don’t know as they try desperately to pass each other and avoid last place, is that Team Vicole got pretty lost on their way back from the detour…
1: TEAM TOREY wins a rejuvenating spa day before the next leg, which might just lead to a third consecutive first-place finish
2: TEAM ZEN
3: TEAM FUN
4: THE AFGHANIMALS
5: SISTERSISTER—Rachel has now tied for the record for most legs raced (31!) on TAR
6: THE ODD COUPLE
NOT ELIMINATED: TEAM VICOLE
I wish we could just rejoice that Team Vicole, a great new team for the TAR canon, lucked out with a non-elimination leg…unfortunately, it gets a little overshadowed by Rachel and Victor getting into it on the mat about who was throwing whom under the bus in the U-turn fiasco while Nicole cries that it’s not worth it, and Elissa tries to smooth things over. Of course, that’s before Team Vicole knows they’re not going home, so there’s still quite a bit of rejoicing to be done now that they’ve lived to race another day. And next week: Democratic <clap> U <clap> Turn <clap>!
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