Exclusive: Andy Finch and Tommy Czeschin talk 'The Amazing Race'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/06/2011
Andy Finch and Tommy Czeschin were dominating most of the legs throughout The Amazing Race's nineteenth season, as they had finished six legs in first place and started off the eleventh leg with a solid lead when they departed the tenth Pit Stop before any of the other teams during Sunday night's broadcast of the CBS reality competition.
While it seemed like the "Friends and former Olympic Snowboarders" team would have no issue avoiding last place and ultimately becoming one of the final three teams who will be competing for the one million dollar grand prize, Andy and Tommy made a fatal mistake in traveling to an incorrect Pit Stop location instead of Panama Viejo -- losing almost an hour of time and resulting in their elimination from the around-the-world competition just before the finals.
On Monday, Andy and Tommy talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience.
Reality TV World: You guys had won more than half of the legs during your Race. How big of a surprise was it for you guys to get eliminated just before making the final three? What was going through your minds when host Phil Keoghan told you that was the end for you guys?
Tommy Czeschin: Well I mean, our goal the whole time was to get better every Race up until that finale, so our goal was to make the finals the whole time. But we did everything we could to get in there, but it just didn't happen for us.
Andy Finch: Yeah, you just never know, man. We just kept going and I mean, we were surprised that we did as well as we did in some of the earlier legs. Going to that [Panama Viejo] Pit Stop, we knew we had lost some time and we knew that there was a really good possibility that we were the last team to show up and might be eliminated.
So, we were a little bit prepared for it but nonetheless, we were still shocked, especially since we had led that whole leg up until those dancing girls.
Tommy Czeschin: I mean, one thing we learned is you never ever think about giving up on the Race. We went to so many different locations looking for that Panama Viejo, but we knew it was a good possibility that we were going to come in last and be eliminated, but we didn't jog in it, we ran in it. We were not going to give up.
Andy Finch: Yeah, we were going to be tourist guys in Panama City, so we could start a new business down there, Tommy.
Reality TV World: How did it feel to finish first so many times?
Andy Finch: It was humbling. There were some good Racers out there. There's a lot of luck involved and man, just knowing that we were making mistakes while still doing well, it was humbling. We were really psyched for sure. It was really cool to be able to win the prizes. Our wives gave up a lot staying back home for a month, taking care of the homefront. So, it was cool to be able to go home not empty handed.
Reality TV World: Why do you think you guys had done so well in so many tasks throughout the season? Do you think your athleticism just played a big role, especially in the more physical tasks or was it more a matter of working really well together?
Tommy Czeschin: I think Andy and I, just being snowboarders, we traveled the world quite a bit to all the different winter locations. I think that really helped us, I think, just getting along and not arguing and complaining about everything -- just working together as a team well, that was really good.
Reality TV World: You guys thought Balboa was the name of the location you were supposed to get to for the Pit Stop during last night's episode. Could you elaborate a little more on what happened there and what you were thinking during that task? Did you think Balboa was too obvious since it was displayed everywhere but you just couldn't find anything else to work with? How long did you spend looking for that location on the dancers?
Andy Finch: It wasn't that obvious. There were all these coins. There were these heads, just like on any coin we have, there's usually a face on it. Then we figured out it was Balboa and we saw these buildings, so we were just thinking, "Alright, there's a building and it's associated with Balboa."
So, that was kind of our first clue that we took off looking for -- buildings that said Balboa on it -- and as we kind of started chipping away at our options, we were like, "Okay, there's a bunch of stuff with Balboa on it."
We never meant to go to the Panama Canal. (Laughs) That was just our taxi's doing, and then we spent -- gosh, Tommy, what do you think total? Looking at those girls was 45 minutes if I try to piece it all together?
Tommy Czeschin: Yeah, to estimate, we were probably in and out of there -- we probably stopped by the square where the dancing girls were for altogether -- we were trying to figure that thing out, and it took 45 minutes for all the times that we were there.
Andy Finch: We saw those girls do that dance at least 12-14 times. It would get to the point when they would stop and flare out their dress, and there was something when they flared out their dress -- we were looking on the dresses, and we really thought the clue had to be on their dresses. For whatever reason, there was only that one girl that had the clue on her and yeah.
Reality TV World: You guys must have memorized their dance! (Laughs)
Andy Finch: Yeah!
Reality TV World: How far do you think you finally arrived at the Pit Stop behind Amani Pollard and Marcus Pollard? Would you say it was 45 minutes based on how much time you had lost looking for the Panama Viejo clue or was it even longer?
Andy Finch: That was just a guesstimate. I think it was around 45, but it's hard to say. Everyone was done and we came stumbling across over the rocks and the deep grass (laughs) and yeah. We knew that we were definitely late.
Reality TV World: Did you get a reaction from the other teams after you had arrived at the Pit Stop in last place? Do you think they were relieved because it was clear that you guys as a team posed one of the biggest threats in the Race.
Tommy Czeschin: Yes. I think the teams were definitely relieved not to have us in the finale there. Watching some of the interviews on the CBS website, the show asked them if they were relieved and by a show of hands, everyone was raising both their hands. They were definitely relieved not to have us in there.
Reality TV World: When you guys watched the show back last night, how frustrating was it to know that Ernie Halvorsen and Cindy Chiang and Amani and Marcus made the same mistake as you with the Balboa location instead of Panama Viejo but the communication between their cab drivers luckily got them heading to the right place? Do you think the exchange of information was ultimately unfair or no?
Andy Finch: You know, I don't think it was unfair. I think they just had lucky timing and they were basically kind of grouped up in like an alliance -- not that they did it on purpose -- but they were together, and it worked in their favor.
They followed the clues; The teams didn't do anything to cheat. It just worked out but it kind of worked against us. We were so far ahead on our own, which I guess is a little ironic, but that's the way it goes.
That's the way this Race is run and it's not all skills. It's not all smarts or anything like that. This game -- this show really evens the playing field now with these types of things. So, if you're watching, you might think someone really got an advantage, but really in the end, it's a pretty even playing field.
Reality TV World: Last night's show made it look like you guys figured out you were the detective twins really quickly online after you had guessed Charlie Chaplin wrong. Was the editing accurate in that it was that simple for you guys or did more go into it than that?
Tommy Czeschin: Yeah. After we figured out we were wrong on that, we knew exactly where the internet cafe was. We had our computer all warmed up and we went back and just researched -- we were just getting closer on the clue. So, it really -- we probably sat down for what, Andy? Five minutes?
Andy Finch: Yeah.
Tommy Czeschin: Then we figured it out and ran back.
Andy Finch: And again, that was a timing thing! We got there and we had a pretty big lead. We got there early, like 3:30-4:00 in the morning. There was just a bunch of drunk people walking around and you get to learn broken English, because we didn't speak their language and they're trying to explain to us who we were.
Most of them were saying Charlie Chaplin, so that's kind of all we had to go on. But we searched the internet and it worked in the teams' favors that they showed up an hour, hour-and-a-half later, and there were some sober people walking around. They knew who they were.
Reality TV World: Andy, what was it like walking that tightrope? It seemed like you thought it was fun, but were you scared at all? And how did you guys determine would do the task? Did you come to the decision because Tommy got to do the racecar task in last week's episode that Andy, you were clearly disappointed you didn't get to do?
Andy Finch: Yeah, I mean, I love driving and I know Tommy does too, (laughs) but only one of us could do it. So, I was stoked for Tommy. As for the tightrope thing, it came down to in the eleventh leg, we each have to have had completed six Roadblocks. Tommy had already done his six. I had five.
So, if you noticed in the show when they pointed out the clue, it listed the people that had to do that Roadblock. Strategically, we did it in case a mental thing came up, but either one of us could have ran right across that cable with no problem.
It was actually pretty easy. I was hoping it would have been four times as long. That's what Tommy and I were really looking -- we wanted to be challenged in some physical areas like that or fear things. If they're scaring us, then they're really scaring the other teams, I'd have to say.
Reality TV World: During the bodybuilding contest, you guys clearly had some trouble pulling off what the judges expected from you. You said after the task that it was a very "humbling" experience. What exactly did you mean by that? Since you guys had been winning a lot before that moment and basically ripping through all the tasks, do you think you were overly confident leading up to that point? If so, do you think being over-confident may have hurt you at all in the Race?
Andy Finch: We were actually never that confident. We just knew that anything could happen and we had to be prepared for anything. What was humbling is that we have a -- one of the ways we perform well is we have fun with things. That's how we knew we were going to do well.
Going into that, we're having fun with it and the bodybuilders didn't appreciate it. They take it very, very serious. So the fact that we came into it kind of goofing off a little bit, you could tell we upset them.
We got a little lecture after our first go at it and it was really humbling to take that serious -- to be standing there in a speedo, showing pretty much everything you got and to do something -- that's just not snowboarders. Snowboarders aren't bodybuilders. They try to stay in shape but they're not ripped by any means. We were way out of our element.
Reality TV World: How many times did you actually have to try to complete the bodybuilding task and how much time do you think you spent at that task overall?
Tommy Czeschin: How many times did it take us -- six or seven different tries, Andy?
Andy Finch: Yeah, I think seven.
Tommy Czeschin: Seven tries. So we were there a good hour. Guesstimating, it was like an hour-and-a-half.
Andy Finch: Yeah, we were there awhile.
Tommy Czeschin: About an hour-and-a-half and you know, like Andy said, we went into it kind of not taking it seriously as we're wearing these little speedos and we weren't really in the bodybuilding mood. The judges could tell we were not into it and they were looking -- I think the judges were looking for people who were having fun with it with good facial expressions.
Time after time we got better each time, and then we finally got it by around seven times. We were there quite awhile. It was very tough. Having to do it over and over and over again was -- that was a tough one.
Andy Finch: That was kind of our first experience where teams -- we were all there at the same time and teams just started leaving and we were left there struggling.