'The Amazing Race: All-Stars' eliminates John Vito and Jill
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/19/2007
The 11 teams featured on The Amazing Race: All-Stars began their journey across the globe during Sunday night's premiere episode, which also saw first couple in the reality competition series' eleventh installment get sent home.
John Vito Pietanza, a 32-year-old trader from New York, NY, and Jill Aquilino, a 29-year-old product controller from New York, NY, were the couple eliminated at the All-Stars competition's first Pit Stop. John and Jill finished fifth during The Amazing Race's third season while they were dating, but participated in All-Stars without being romantically involved.
"This is not how we wanted to come back. We had high expectations," said Jill. "And considering we were broken up and everything, we got along so great. We had so much fun. I think we unified our relationship to each other. Maybe this [experience] will put us on a new path that's definitely more than just friends."
The episode began with the 11 teams participating in The Amazing Race'sfirst ever all-star edition arriving in Miami, FL, the starting point for the competition and a city which host Phil Keoghan described as the "gateway to the Americas." After discussing the reasons why they returned, Phil told the teams that there would be pit stops at the end of each leg of the race -- eight of which are elimination points. He added that each team would once again be competing for a $1 million grand prize.
"In just a few minutes, you'll be leaving on your second race around the world," said Keoghan. "But first, take a moment to look at the fierce competitors around you. No one should take anyone else for granted. The world is waiting for you."
The race began with a lot of excitement once the teams grabbed their bags and first clue, which told them they'd be traveling to Quito, Ecuador. Being Miami natives, Ozwald Mendez and Danilo Jimenez quickly jumped out in-front on the drive to the airport. John and Jill followed their lead, as did Rob and Amber Mariano.
Kevin O'Connor and Drew Feinberg saw their race get off to a difficult start, with most of the racers passing Drew on-foot on way to the vehicles. "I can't believe I outran Drew," said Charla Baklayan Faddoul, who is racing with her cousin Mirna Hindoyan. "Did you see everyone pass me?" Drew asked Kevin once inside their vehicle. "I look like such an idiot."
John and Jill were the first to arrive at the airport, followed by Ozwald and Danilo and Rob and Amber. While it looked like Ozwald and Danilo would miss the first shuttle, Rob told the driver to stop and wait for them.
"They showed us the way here, it's the least we could do. It was the first kind gesture I've made... and it killed me to do it," said Rob, who just before that was singing a different tune. "Amber and I did not drag our asses back to The Amazing Race: All-Stars to finish in second place," said Rob. "Mark my words."
Once they arrived at the airport, the teams could either choose between an American Airlines flight or a flight on Copa Airlines. The catch was that while the American flight left 20 minutes later than the Copa flight, it arrived two hours earlier. The first three teams at the airport all chose American, as did Charla and Mirna and Teri and Ian Pollack.
David Jr. and Mary Conley were the next team to arrive at the airport. Blindly assuming that the earlier departing Copa flight would be the first flight to arrive in Ecuador, they were the first team to book tickets on the Copa flight. While Dave and Mary eventually thought to ask their ticket agent about the American flight's arrival time, the question came too late -- they'd already been booked on the Copa flight.
Realizing they'd made a mistake, Mary immediately did her best to make sure that they wouldn't be alone on the later flight. "Copa Airlines, that's the fastest," Mary told Dustin Seltzer (married since her last The Amazing Race appearance) and Kandice Pelletier, who arrived at the Copa ticket counter shortly after.
Afterward, Mary admitted she'd tried to deceive Dustin and Kandice. "I lied to the beauty queens. We don't want to help them. We want them out."
When the blondes realized that their former The Amazing Race 10 rivals had lied to them, they weren't too pleased. However in the end, it didn't matter, as only the first five teams (John and Jill, Ozwald and Danilo, Rob and Amber, Charla and Mirna, and Teri and Ian) that had gone directly to the American terminal got onto the earlier arriving flight and all six of the remaining teams ended up on Copa.
Once they arrived in Quito, the teams to travel by taxi to Plaza San Francisco where they would find their next clue. During their cab rides, most of the racers used their limited Spanish to implore the drivers to be "rapido," and Rob even got his to take a shortcut.
After arriving at the plaza, the teams found another clue instructing them to travel three miles to Pim's Restaurant. Once there, they had to pull a reservation number that corresponded to one of three departure times the following morning that were staggered by 15 minutes.
As the first teams to arrive at Pim's, Rob and Amber, John and Jill, Charla and Mirna, and Ozwald and Danilo all received 7AM departures. "If you asked us who we would love to race against, there's really nobody," said Amber . "But I think everybody else would answer that question with 'Rob and Amber.'" As if reading her mind, Mirna said "Rob and Amber are really fierce competitors, so they're really the team to beat." Added Ozwald, "I've heard enough of Rob and Amber... I think America has also."
When the Copa teams arrived in Ecuador and left the airport, Drew and Kevin were still in last place -- and the situation only got worse for them when Drew fell while exiting his taxi at Plaza San Francisco. Kevin repeatedly yelled, "Get up!" and "Come on!" to Drew, who writhed on the ground in physical pain. After Kevin grabbed their clue, the two climbed back into their taxi, where Drew explained that he thought he dislocated his left shoulder. "You wouldn't be moving it like that if it were separated," Kevin told him.
The next morning, four teams departed the restaurant at 7AM, with four more teams following at 7:15AM and the last three leaving at 7:30AM. "Fifteen minutes can cost us the whole game," said Mary, who was in the last group to leave.
As they left the restaurant, the teams received clues instructing them to use a provided map to drive themselves 65 miles to Hacienda Yanahurco, an ecological reserve in Cotopaxi National Park. Once there, they'd find their next clue, and they were advised to enter through the north entrance of the park.
After leaving the restaurant, Charla and Mirna -- declaring that they weren't afraid to "interact with locals" -- picked up a local to take them to the park. Unfortunately, she forgot to tell the local they picked up they needed to go through the park's north entrance, a detail that eventually put them in the back of the pack along with John and Jill -- who despite also leaving the restaurant in the initial 7AM group, saw their early lead vanish when they also ended up following directions that took them to the south entrance.
Rob and Amber were the first to arrive at the park. Once there, they learned it was time for the season's first Detour task. Teams could choose between two tasks, "Wrangle It" and "Recover It," which Phil said were "garnered from Ecuador's history and traditions."
In "Wrangle it," teams had to help local cowboys lasso, tie-down and groom a wild horse whose "hooves have grown so long it cannot walk properly." In "Recover it," one team member had to wear a historic military uniform and, with their partner, search a field for three items.
Rob and Amber chose "recover it" because, as Rob put it, "animals are always tough." After quickly recovering one of the items, things slowed down. "Enough is enough. We're going to spend three hours walking around this field," said Rob. "This sucks," opined Amber. "Never mind it sucks, let's just go do the other one now," replied Rob. Their team would be the only to attempt "Recover it," as "Wrangle it" was the popular choice for the first Detour.
After the teams completed the Detour, they proceeded up a nearby hill to Mirador, Cotopaxi, a lookout that would serve as the race's first Pit Stop. Rob and Amber arrived first, followed by Ozwald and Danilo, Terri and Ian, Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner and Joe Baldassare and Bill Bartek. Dustin and Kandice and Uchenna and Joyce Agu followed shortly thereafter.
Meanwhile, back in the lowlands, the rest of the teams were still frantically racing. David and Mary, Charla and Mirna, Kevin and Drew and John and Jill all scrambled to the north entrance of Cotopaxi to not be the last team at the pit stop. As Drew drove he and Kevin, he commented that Peru was beautiful, which prompted a correction from Kevin. "I'm sure it's nice in Peru... we're in Ecuador."
After initially driving to the wrong park entrance and having to drive across the park's uninhabited interior, Mirna thought she and Charla were doomed and and would be lucky to make the Detour by midnight. "I don't now where we're going anymore," worried Charla. "All I see is rocks."
Despite the stressful nature of their journey, Charla and Mirna eventually finished eighth, followed by David and Mary. Meanwhile John and Jill -- having also traveled to the wrong park entrance -- were still having direction problems. "We're so out of it," said Jill. "Just remember how many times last time... we drove in last place everywhere... let's try and make the best of it," said John.
Things were going just as poorly for Drew and Kevin, as their vehicle got a flat tire as they approached the Detour. Drew then made a decision that could have doomed them, as he drove on without fixing it. "t doesn't pay to fix it now," said Drew. "I can get there just as fast with a flat tire." Surprisingly, he was right, as he and Kevin were the tenth team to make it to the pit stop, meaning John and Jill were eliminated.
"As soon as Phil said 'Go!' we ran off that starting line. We just felt like a team and having Jill by my side the whole way felt fantastic," said John. "Participating in the race really brought us back together... and it was great."
Ten teams remain in competition for the $1 million grand prize on The Amazing Race: All-Stars, which will continue on Sunday, February 25 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.