Mikkelson surges to first in Amazing Race
Olympic hockey champ shows her stuff along with teammate Natalie Spooner
Friday, Jul 18, 2014 04:45 pm
St. Albert’s Meaghan Mikkelson and teammate Natalie Spooner are once again shining in the spotlight as the golden girls of The Amazing Race Canada.
For the first two legs of the new reality series, the Olympic hockey champions have dominated as they surged into first place. As elite athletes, they have dedicated their lives to performing under pressure, and are clearly the team to beat.
And yet, the required stamina and endurance was something they underestimated.
“Spooner and I thought the challenges would be hard, but we didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was physically and mentally,” said Mikkelson in a brief telephone interview.
Would she do it again?
“Absolutely, I’d do it again. It’s one of the best experiences I ever had. You can’t really compare it to the Olympics, but the people I met and the experiences I had were amazing. Anybody who has the chance to do it, I’d say go for it.”
The tests are structured to challenge every facet of a person, using all-around acquired skills such as physical strength, memory, dexterity, balance, problem solving and mental endurance.
In the first leg of the challenge, competitors met at the Columbia Ice Fields, ziplined across WinSport Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. They boarded an airplane for Victoria where they skydived into British Columbia’s capital.
“Natalie puked everywhere. She gets motion sickness,” Mikkelson said.
In Victoria, Mikkelson served tea at the Empress Hotel after memorizing the menu and then the duo sped to Esquimalt to handle a fire challenge and fix nine leaks in a tank filled with water. As the first to complete the leg, Mikkelson and Spooner received an express pass.
The second leg stretched from Victoria to Tofino, “the tree-hugging capital of the world,” according to host Jon Montgomery.
The express pass allowed Mikkelson and Spooner a head start at the still dark hour of 4:18 a.m. The duo drove more than 300 kilometres in an electric car to Wickaninnish Beach in Pacific Rim National Park to pick up a clue. Next they drove to Ucluelet Harbour for the “Detour.”
This challenge involved a choice of either sorting 1,000 pounds of fish or separating five species into five big blue bins. Or they could fillet 30 pounds of useable fish to the satisfaction of processing staff.
Several teams were already flipping fish at the sorting station when Mikkelson and Spooner arrived. In the frenzy, the duo jumped into the fray.
At one point during the sorting, Spooner threw up her arms and said, “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.”
Every team at the sorting station was stymied. One team even moved to the filleting station, preferring to deal with knives and spilled guts. However, the Olympic champs stuck it out.
“We fell behind in the fish challenge,” Mikkelson said. “It was the first time we’d dropped to the middle. We didn’t know what we were doing and it was scary, but if it’s something you can’t do, you can’t do (it).”
Although the pair had considered the fish filleting challenge, they simply fell into the fish sorting challenge.
“We decided at that point, we’d do what we wanted regardless of what others were doing.”
Their next stop was the Surf Shack at North Chesterman Bay for the next clue – a surf ride in the Pacific Ocean.
Spooner tried first, but quickly fell on the board. Mikkelson took over, and gracefully surfed to shore.
“As it turns out, I can surf a little bit,” smiled Mikkelson during the episode.
But it was Spooner who pushed them to first place, fashioning a traditional Tofino beach chair constructed from driftwood and netting.
“The best thing about Spooner and I is that we complement each other really well. We have different strengths. There’s a lot of times that comes in handy. We do different things and notice different things the other may not see,” Mikkelson said.
Upon completion of the beach chair they dashed to Crab Dock where Montgomery pronounced them first place winners for the second consecutive time.
“We’re in first place again. And I’m so proud of Spooner right now,” said Mikkelson on a show deferring to her teammate.
The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on CTV. Next stop is Honk Kong.