The Amazing Race's fourth seventeenth-season episode began with the Race's nine remaining teams leaving the course's third Pit Stop in Ghana.
Since they had been the first team to arrive at the Pit Stop, Connor and Jonathan were the first team to depart at 10:15AM.
They were then followed by "Father/Daughter" Gary Ervin and Mallory Ervin at 11:19AM, "Newly Dating Couple" Chad Waltrip and Stephanie Smith at 11:29AM, "Beach Volleyball Partners" Katie Seamon and Rachel Johnston at 12:12PM, "Dating Couple" Nick DeCarlo and Vicki Casciola at 12:23PM, "Home Shopping Hosts" Brook Roberts and Claire Champlin at 12:24PM, "Dating Couple" Jill Haney and Thomas Wolfard at 12:29PM, "Doctors/Friends" Nat Strand and Kat Chang at 1:12PM, and "Father/Son" Michael Wu and Kevin Wu at 1:26PM.
Upon opening their departure clues, the teams were instructed fly 4,500 miles to Kiruna, Sweden and then drive themselves to the village of Jukkasjarvi, where they would find IceHotel, the world's largest hotel made from ice and snow. However due to limited flights out of Ghana, all nine teams were given tickets on the same flights which connected through Frankfurt, Germany but told they were under no obligation to use them.
While most teams just went to the airport and waited for the check-in counters to open, Michael and Kevin called the airline on the way to the airport and discovered that rather than waiting for their pre-booked 9:50AM flight from Frankfurt to Kiruna, they could book tickets on an earlier 7:30AM flight that would get them to Kiruna a couple of hours earlier.
After arriving at the airport, Michael and Kevin also decided to share their information with Gary and Mallory.
"We decided to confide in Gary and Mallory because they're a father/daughter team like we're father/son and so we can relate to them," Kevin explained.
Nat and Kat also decided to check online for earlier flights as the teams waited at the airport and also discovered the earlier connecting flight -- which they ended up sharing with Brook and Claire after they tracked them down in the terminal's Internet cafe.
"It's so scary, we're in the bottom chunk," Jonathan lamented after the teams arrived in Frankfurt and the other teams learned Michael and Kevin, Gary and Mallory, Nat and Kat, and Brook and Claire had all managed to board the earlier connecting flight.
"We're now in a five-way sprint to not get last."
Gary and Mallory were the first team to leave the airport in Kiruna and were followed by Brook and Claire, Nat and Kat, and Michael and Kevin. However Nat and Kat were the first team to arrive at the IceHotel and were followed by Brook and Claire, Gary and Mallory, and Michael and Kevin.
Connor and Jonathan were the first team out of the airport after the second flight arrived a couple of hours later and were followed closely behind by Jill and Thomas, Katie and Rachel, Nick and Vicki, and Chad and Stephanie.
But similar to the first flight, the order changed by the time the second flight teams arrived at the IceHotel. Katie and Rachel arrived fifth and were followed by Connor and Jonathan, Nick and Vicki, Chad and Stephanie, and Jill and Thomas.
Upon arriving at the IceHotel, the teams received blocks of ice which instructed them -- in Swedish -- to drive to Fjellborg's Lodge, a lakeside camp.
In addition, Michael and Kevin were also required to complete an additional Speed Bump task as their penalty for finishing last during the Race's prior non-elimination leg. A pure time delay, the task simply required them to spend 10 minutes sitting on ice chairs before continuing in the Race.
All nine teams seemed to figure out the ice blocks without significant issue after consulting with locals who translated the Swedish instructions, but Michael and Kevin managed to completely overcome their Speed Bump delay and become the first team to arrive at Fjellborg's Lodge. They were followed by Gary and Mallory, Brook and Claire, and Nat and Kat.
Later on, Katie and Rachel were the first second flight team to arrive at the lodge and were followed by Connor and Jonathan, Chad and Stephanie, Nick and Vicki and Jill and Thomas.
Once at the lodge, the teams received clues that instructed them to follow a marked path through the wilderness to a Roadblock task. However, Jill and Thomas fell further behind the other teams when they got lost while trying to find the Roadblock and ended up running a mile in the wrong direction.
Jill suggested utilizing the "Express Pass" voucher they had won when they finished first in the Race's initial leg to skip the Roadblock task but Thomas rejected the idea, saying it was still pre-mature.
"We don't need to panic yet," Thomas said.
After arriving at the Roadblock, the teams learned one member of each team would have to use a summer training sled to mush a team of sled dogs down a forest trail while retrieving flags they would exchange for a bundle of animal pelts and then return with the pelts.
Michael, Mallory, Claire, Nat, Katie, Connor, Stephanie, Nick, and Jill opted to do the Roadblock for their teams.
Michael and Kevin were the first to complete the Roadblock and were followed by Brook and Claire, Gary and Mallory, and Nat and Kat. Later on, Connor and Jonathan were the first second flight team to complete task and were followed by Nick and Vicki, Katie and Rachel, Chad and Stephanie, and Jill and Thomas.
After finishing the Roadblock, the teams were instructed to drive to Vassijaure train station.
Michael and Kevin arrived at the train station in first place and were followed by Nat and Kat, Gary and Mallory, and Brook and Claire. Connor and Jonathan led the second flight teams later on, and were followed by Chad and Stephanie, Katie and Rachel, Nick and Vicki, and Jill and Thomas.
Once at the station, the teams learned it was time for them to complete one of two Detour tasks: "Sleds" or "Beds."
"Sleds" required the teams to make their way to the top of a mountain and then race down the course in ATV-like extreme sport sleds in less than 118 seconds. Both team members would have to re-do the course if either member failed to finish in time.
"Beds" required the teams to make their way to a Scandinavian nomad camp and use traditional materials to erect a tent-like dwelling and outfit the interior with sleeping beds and a campfire.
After discovering they were still in last place, Thomas agreed to Jill's suggestion that they use the "Express Pass."
"We don't want to get eliminated and not use our Express Pass," Jill noted.
"Alright, screw it," Thomas replied.
"This is definitely the best choice," Jill said.
All of the other teams except Michael and Kevin opted to do the "Sleds" Detour task.
"I wish I could do the sled but I'm scared you can't do it Dad," Kevin said.
"Right," replied Michael, who had to be treated for exhaustion during the Race's prior Detour task.
Nat and Kat, Brook and Claire, and Gary and Mallory all managed to complete the "Sleds" task during their first or second attempts and pass Michael and Kevin, who fell into fourth place when the "Beds" Detour task took longer than they had expected.
However things didn't go as smoothly for the four remaining second flight teams as only Nick and Vicki were able to complete the sledding task without issue.
Chad and Stephanie decided to switch to "Beds" after Stephanie struggled and went off the course repeatedly during her first attempt.
"Chad, I'm done," she said. "I mean did you see me fall? Literally the whole thing landed on top of me."
"So you don't want to try it again?" Chad asked.
"I'm sorry, I can't," Stephanie replied as she began sobbing. "It scared the sh-t out of me, I crashed three times and the thing landed on top of me. I almost went over the entire gate. I'm sorry."
Katie and Rachel also decided to switch tasks after they repeatedly sledded off the course and through its safety barriers.
"Just don't give up okay, we have to stay positive," Rachel said.
Connor and Jonathan -- who had been the first second flight team to arrive at the mountain -- also finally decided to switch to "Beds" after Jonathan repeatedly crashed and failed to finish the course in time.
"The sled and I did not agree and it was becoming truly painful," he said.
After completing the Detour task, the teams received clues that instructed them to drive themselves to the Norwegian border, which would serve as the Race's fourth Pit Stop.
Nat and Kat were the first team to arrive at the Pit Stop and be checked-in by The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan. As a reward, they won a five-night trip to Belize. Gary and Mallory were the second team to arrive at the Pit Stop and were followed by Brook and Claire and Michael and Kevin.
Since they had skipped the Detour task, Jill and Thomas managed to check-in at the Pit Stop in fifth place. Nick and Vicki -- the only second flight team to successfully complete the "Sleds" Detour task -- arrived in sixth place.
Chad and Stephanie were the first of the three remaining teams to complete the "Beds" Detour task and arrived at the Pit Stop in seventh place, leaving Katie and Rachel and Connor and Jonathan to complete for the final non-elimination slot.
However given their earlier start on the task, Katie and Rachel were able to complete the "Beds" task and reach the Pit Stop ahead of Connor and Jonathan.
"Connor and Jonathan, you are the last team to arrive," Phil said.
"Yeah, we figured," Jonathan replied.
"We thought so," Connor added.
"I'm sorry to tell you that you have been eliminated from the Race," Phil said.
(Photo credit CBS)
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