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Exclusive: Amanda Blackledge and Kris Klicka talk 'The Amazing Race'


By John Bracchitta, 03/09/2009 

Amanda Blackledge and Kris Klicka are probably not the biggest fans of The Amazing Race's new "Blind U-Turn."

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After establishing themselves as one of the more threatening teams in the competition with their strong performances in the challenges, Amanda, a 23-year-old student, and Kris a 24-year-old sales representative, both of whom reside in San Diego, CA, fell victim to the first U-Turn of The Amazing Race's fourteenth season and were slowed just enough to become the fourth team to be eliminated from the CBS reality travel series during Sunday's broadcast.

On Monday, Amanda and Kris spoke to Reality TV World about what delayed them in Moscow enough to miss their initial flight to Siberia, Why they both didn't suspect that Margie and Luke Adams had been the ones who U-Turn'd them at all, and which show Kris thought he was being asked to participate in -- and flat out rejected -- before learning that he was being offered a spot on The Amazing Race.

Reality TV World: You both seemed pretty certain that, save for a non-elimination leg, you were going home, is that accurate?

Amanda: Yeah, well we knew we were the last [team] left in the village, we knew we were in last place when we were finishing that wood stack pile. However we were hoping and praying that it was a non-elimination. We did not know if it was or not, and to be honest we really kinda thought it was going to be a non-elimination leg just because there had already been a few episodes and they hadn't had one yet. So we kinda thought they were due.

Plus with the U-Turn, we figured it would make sense for them to do a non-elimination with that kind of thing thrown into the game. So that's why when we came in and talk to [The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan] we expected to be last but we were kinda still waiting for him to say "You're eliminated" until we believed it because we thought it was gonna be a non-elimination.

Kris: Yeah we were hoping, we were really hoping it was going to be a non-elimination. But it wasn't.

Reality TV World: Do you know how far behind [Mark and Michael Munoz] you finished?

Kris: Like 10 minutes.

Amanda: Yeah, the production said 10 minutes.

Kris: So if we hadn't gotten U-Turn'd we woulda still been in it, which is the big bummer about it. It sucked that we had to get out of the race because it was out of our hands [and was] just kinda how the cards fell, which sucks. We really wanted to be in the race because we were doing really well.

Reality TV World: The U-Turn obviously didn't help at all, but you guys had already gone from starting the leg in second place to dropping all the way to last place before you got U-Turn'd.  What happened to you in that leg, was it just an off-leg for you?

Amanda: When we arrived at the wood pile...

Kris: (Interrupting) Well the flights...

Amanda: Yeah, well first of all we missed the flights. In Russia apparently it takes three hours to go through customs and we weren't expecting that. We had an hour-and-a-half gap to go through customs and we thought that would be plenty of time, and it wasn't. However as you noticed we weren't the only team to make that mistake. Everyone except for three teams missed the flight. So that was the first thing that put us behind.

Kris: When we were in Transylvania we were at the airport and there was tons of different flights to choose from, and it was kinda our job to pick and choose which flight we wanted, and we decided to connect through Frankfurt because we thought it was kind of a busier airport. We thought we'd get through it a lot quicker and not get held up, but it turns out that we didn't time the timing in Russia right, so it put us in the back of the pack.

Reality TV World: Were either one of you expecting that you would be one of the first teams targeted with a U-Turn when the other teams got a chance to use one?

Amanda: I definitely did. I actually said it on the camera but they didn't show it, but as soon as we heard that there was a U-Turn in this leg I knew immediately it was gonna be us [because] we were doing so well. I mean, we were one of the teams that, in the first leg we went from fifth [place] to third [place] to second [place] and we were progressively getting closer and closer to first [place]. We were blowing everyone out with all the challenges, so we knew we were a threat to everyone, so I expected it.

Kris: And the teams had been commenting about how strong we were and stuff too, so we knew that they viewed us as a big threat.

Reality TV World: When did you find out that Margie and Luke were actually the ones that U-Turn'd you?

Kris: We actually didn't find out until after we got to sequester and the following team arrived. They came and told us and we were just shocked. I mean, we had no clue it was going to be them.

Amanda: Yeah, something they actually didn't show on the show was that when we were in Romania [for the Pit Stop] the cast went out to lunch one day and [we] were split up into two tables, and on out walk back to our hotel Margie and Luke were walking with Kris and I, and she came up to us and said "I just wanted to let you guys know that at out table we were talking about the U-Turn, and every single person and team at our table, including us, said we'd never use it, and [Jennifer Hoffman and LaKisha Hoffman] said they would and that you'd be stupid not to."

She went out of her way to tell us that and this was the day before it happened. So immediately when we saw we had been U-Turn'd  we automatically assumed it was Jen and Kisha based off of what Margie told us the day before. So when we found out it was Margie and Luke we really just felt deceived.

Like, why did you need to go out of your way to make up a story that was absolutely not true? Jen and Kisha ended up telling us that they never said anything like that at all. So the fact that she basically made up a story, it blew me away, why did you need to do that. And we were stupid for believing her.

Kris: Yeah, definitely a low blow though.

Reality TV World: Amanda, you also said it could be [Christie Volkmer] and [Jodi Wincheski] and called them "untrustworthy."  Could you explain that comment a little more?

Amanda: Yeah, that was another thing definitely my biggest regret was believing what I heard because [along] with the Margie thing was the blondes, and what happened with them was... That was in the first leg of the race we were on a train, and I forgot who it was -- I don't wanna say the wrong person -- but some team came up to Jennifer and Preston and Kris and I and said "Just to let you know, we heard that the blondes are trying to not work with anyone and they're trying to work alone. They're untrustworthy, like watch out for them, be careful they're gonna be deceitful.

So from Day 1 we've heard that and we had that in the back of our minds, so at the U-Turn we're thinking "Well the blondes finished before everyone else, they had a very good opportunity to U-Turn someone. It coulda been them." So that's where I was basing that from, I shouldn't have.

Reality TV World: You also said that the other racers  were "conniving people" and said that you had been nice to everyone. Obviously you never got the opportunity, but had you guys not planned to ever use either of the competition's two U-turns if you got the chance?

Kris: Well our outlook on it was we wanted to win the game fair-and-square, we didn't wanna feel like we cut any corners to kinda put us in the front. We wanted to win because we deserve to win rather than cheating people and stuff.

Amanda: Actually in an extra video clipping online from the episode when we were in Austria, we're on the mat talking about it and we even said we're only gonna use it if it's the last U-Turn available and we know someone could turn and give it back to us. We would only use it if we were in [next-to-]last place and needed it.

Luke and Margie, they were in the very front and they knew that we were hours behind them in a flight that was way behind them. So they knew they didn't need to do it, so that's another thing that kinda bothered us because it's like they absolutely didn't have to, they wasted it, so it was just unnecessary in our opinion.

Reality TV World: You said that the delay on the flight was caused by customs?

Amanda: Yes.

Kris: Yeah, in Russia.

Reality TV World: Did you even come close to making the connecting flight out of Moscow?

Kris: Well we were sitting in this little waiting room for hours on end just looking at our clocks, because we were there an hour-and-a-half before our flight was supposed to leave so we thought we were gonna be okay. It just ended up taking a really long time. And we ended up seeing all the other teams there and we were all bummed out, we were like "Oh gosh, this sucks we kinda got screwed."

Reality TV World: How far behind that first 5:40AM arrival flight was the one that you and the other four teams ended up flying on?

Kris: It was about four hours difference.

Amanda: Yeah, three or four hours difference. We knew that the three teams would be the first ones were in good shape.

Kris: Except for Mike and Mark, who I think were still at the wood shutters thing at some point when we got there. They were there a long time.

Reality TV World: Was anyone else on the same flight with you two when you got stuck [in Moscow] or was it just [your team] on that flight?

Amanda: Everyone who didn't make the first one, other than those first three teams, everyone else was on the same flight. Three teams on one, and then everyone else on another one three or four hours later.

Reality TV World: About how long did it take you to finish the "Stack" firewood challenge the second time around?

Amanda: When we went back a second time it probably us 10-15 minutes, but what you don't see is that the distance between the shutters challenge and where the U-Turn mat was and the wood stack.

They're all about a 10 minute walk apart, so once we finished the shutters it took us a while to walk back, then we found out we were U-Turn'd and had to walk another 10 minutes back to the wood pile and then finish it and it's another 10 minutes back to the cab.

So it wasn't necessarily just the tasks that took us a long time but going back and fourth between the challenges.

Reality TV World: What about the Roadblock, did you struggle with the puzzle after the sled ride like many of the other teams did?

Kris: I actually got it on the second try, I had no clue what it was but I was kinda thinking of words in my head that, with those letters, sounded Russian. I ended up putting the right one there the second time around and we got outta there really quick.

Reality TV World: Amanda, Jaime and Cara were shown criticizing your lack of work during your first stacking challenge, how did you react to that?

Amanda: Well, I was bothered by it. I mean, it was unnecessary for them to be looking over at us and worrying about what other teams were doing. I mean why should they care?

It was just kinda stupid, especially because Kris and I had a tactic going. I definitely was helping him stack the wood as fast as I could but it got to the point where I couldn't reach the top. And, as you can tell, being tall in this challenge is an advantage.

Also, we realized that you need to get specifically shaped pieces of wood to fit perfectly otherwise it wouldn't work. So it was faster and made more sense for Kris and I for me to pick out the certain pieces of wood and hand them to him and then he could just place them on top because he was taller. So it just made sense, and it worked out better for us. So they said I wasn't doing anything but I definitely was.

Kris: She was kick ass, for sure.

Reality TV World: Kind of going off of that, what teams did you get along the best and The worst with? 

Kris: I think the team that we got along the best with was [Mel and Mike White], we spent a lot of time with them traveling and whatnot and they're just really down to earth cool people.

Amanda: Good guys.

Kris: Really good people, yeah. (Pauses) And [Preston McCamy] and [Jennifer Hopka] too were also [friendly], for the first leg. Yeah, we became friends with them as well.

Reality TV World: Any worst relationship?

Amanda: Well, I mean, right away after this leg we immediately heard about what the redheads were saying about us, so that kind of was a negative thing. They actually told us afterwards that they had said that. Or, sort of, they didn't tell us the extent they said it. But you're kinda prepared for that. But I mean that was a low blow.

Kris: Our whole cast though, we all still keep in touch with each other, there's definitely no animosity to anybody.

Reality TV World: What was your favorite experience on The Amazing Race?

Amanda: Oh that's such a hard question. I mean for Kris, he definitely loved the bungee jump, that was a big thing for him. But it was really just the experience as a whole for us. Just getting to do the whole thing was just amazing

Reality TV World: Based on your closing words, it sounded like The Amazing Race only made your relationship stronger.  What’s the current status of your relationship now? Is there any engagement down the road?

Amanda: Well I'm still in school for almost another year and Kris graduated from San Diego State and still hasn't found work. So right now we're not in any financial place...

Kris: ... (Continuing) To get the ring and all that stuff.

Amanda: It'll definitely happen eventually, it's just a matter of time and we wanna wait until I graduate and he needs a job

Kris: Yeah, hopefully by then the ball will be rolling and we'll be able to go.

Reality TV World: Oh, and actually I forgot to ask, was there any least favorite experience on the show?

Kris: You know, we weren't having that great a time in Siberia.

Amanda: No, Siberia was rough.

Kris: It was just kinda like one bad thing happening after another. By the end of it you're just like "Gosh this really sucks."

Reality TV World: Is there anything that you wanted to make it onto the show that was edited out?

Amanda: Well, you know, in the first episode it doesn't show it at all, but when Kris is getting strapped in to do his bungee jump I wasn't able to talk to him at that point and Mel came up and asked me if he could borrow 20 Swiss Francs from Jennifer and Preston and me and Kris.

I was with Jennifer, we couldn't talk to the guys because they were busy, so we had to make the decision on her own, and we both said we would. And then I gave him 20 Swiss Francs and Jennifer didn't have any smaller bills, she only had larger bills so they couldn't give them money.

So Kris and I were the only team to lend another team money, and they didn't even show it, which I was shocked. I mean in the first episode there's so much going on that it was hard to probably fit it in. But it was funny because afterwards when Kris did the bungee I told him and he actually got mad at me for lending money. So I was surprised they didn't show it.

Kris: I wish they showed more of the cheese hills. Me and Preston were high-fiving each other. We rocked out that challenge, we ended up getting there after the teams and then we passed all of them.

Amanda: Yeah, it wasn't really clear how many teams Kris and I really passed on that hill. We showed up [and] we were like the third to last team to show up and we still came in fifth that day,

Kris: We breezed through everybody, so that was the one thing I wish they woulda shown because it woulda shown how strong you were, even in that first episode. They didn't really show a whole lot of us in that first episode.

Reality TV World: It seemed like Margie and Luke really inspired a bunch of people out there with their communication skills and hard work. Obviously putting the U-Turn aside, could you both talk about what you thought about them a little?

Amanda: Yeah. From the get-go the fact that it's the first deaf contestant, I mean that's just immediately, already they're gonna have a huge fan base.

Kris: Yeah I mean it's definitely cool to see what they've got going on. They've got the mother and son bond, so that definitely helps them out. They were a good team, they were a strong team on the Race.

Before we knew that the had U-Turned us we actually had thought that they were kinda one of our friends on the Race because we had spent a plane flight on the way to Romania with them, which was hours upon hours of just kinda sitting around BS'ing with each other, with them and Mel and Mike. So we really liked them a lot and we were kinda rooting for them too when they were doing well and stuff we were really encouraging and really cheering them on like "Yeah, good job guys," because it's a cool thing to see.

Reality TV World: Did you guys begin rooting for any particular team to win once you got eliminated? 

Amanda: Yeah, we definitely naturally went with Mike and Mel, just because from Leg 1 it was us, Mike and Mel and Jennifer and Preston. We were the first ones to get in that shuttle in the airport from Day 1 and it was just an immediate click. We all got along really great.

And another thing about Mel and Mike is that they're really good people and they were in it for the same reasons that Kris and I were in it. I mean, everyone's in it to win it ideally, but we weren't in there to bash or put down other teams or anything in order to win.

We wanted to win based on the fact that we earned it and we were good, and they're the same way. And they were in it for the adventure and the bonding experience between each other, and that's exactly how Kris and I felt as well.

Kris: And they're funny as hell.

Amanda: They were so funny, they were so sweet, so we definitely began rooting for them.

Reality TV World: How'd you guys end up on the show -- whose idea was it? Had you applied before?

Kris: We were actually downtown at a club in San Diego for a friend's birthday one night and I was walking through to go to the bathroom and a lady that works for CBS approached me. And it was really loud in there and I had had a few cocktails so I didn't really understand what she said, I thought she asked me if I wanted to be on The Real World and I kinda turned around and told her to kinda eff off and I walked away.

Amanda ended up walking up at the same time and she said "Oh is that your boyfriend?" or something like that and she was like "Yeah I just asked him if he wanted to be on The Amazing Race and he told me to screw off and walked away," and so that right there kinda made her like "Gosh, they don't really care, I kinda wanna see what happens with these guys.

So I followed up with her and I heard that it was The Amazing Race and I was like "Oh, my gosh! I didn't know that!" I thought she was saying The Real World, which is something I never wanna do.

Anyway, long story short we went up to LA from there and we made it. We kinda got lucky.

Amanda: Yeah, we were actually the only team recruited. Everyone else just sent in videos, so that was kinda cool.

(Photo credit CBS)


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