Exclusive: Amanda Blackledge and Kris Klicka talk 'The Amazing Race'
By Reality TV World staff, 03/01/2011
Amanda Blackledge and Kris Klicka thought they were in good shape when they finished the first leg of The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business in second place despite being the last team to complete the all-stars edition's initial task.
However, their lack of success with the first task caught up with them as they were penalized with a U-Turn that eventually required them to complete both sides of the Detour task in the Race's second leg -- resulting in the "Engaged Couple" becoming the first team eliminated from the competition during Sunday night's broadcast of the show's second episode.
On Monday, Amanda and Kris talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience -- including how far behind they were from the other teams when they finished the second leg, what the status of their relationship with their fellow racers, which returning team went from favorite to rival once the Race began, and why they lost their commanding lead and ended up arriving at the Race's second Pit Stop dead last.
Reality TV World: Last night's broadcast made it look like it was a pretty close finish between Ron Hsu and Christina Hsu and yourselves at the second Pit Stop. Was that actually the case -- do you have any idea about how far behind them you got to the Pit Stop?
Kris Klicka: Yeah, well, we found out we were just minutes behind really. So, yeah, we were right on their tails.
Amanda Blackledge: I was just going to say we were three minutes or we were five minutes -- something like that.
Reality TV World: Almost half of this season's cast are fourteenth-season teams -- did that surprise you?
Kris Klicka: Definitely surprised us and we got to know all those people very well by going to parties and watching episodes together and what not. It was a shocker and it was also pretty fun to see friends that we've made over the years, you know?
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you saw that Margie Adams and Luke Adams -- the team that ended your first season when they U-Turn'd you -- were one of the other teams that were brought back?
Amanda Blackledge: It's not like we haven't talked to them since they U-Turn'd us two years ago. We had seen them around at different functions and parties and watching episodes and things, so we definitely are friends with them. But seeing them at the starting line -- as well as the other teams from our season -- it was surprising how many people they took from our season.
We were just lucky and happy that we were one of them, and if anything, it helped us out a little more in a sense that we knew them really well rather than just watching them. So, we really felt like we were going up against people we knew a little bit better than some of the other teams that weren't on our season.
Kris Klicka: We were thinking, 'Hey, maybe we can U-Turn them this time.'
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Reality TV World: That's what I was going to ask because Phil Keoghan mentioned in his voiceover in your introductions during last week's premiere that you two had been U-Turn'd by Margie and Luke in your first season, but the show didn't seem to show you guys discussing it yourselves. So it had been discussed, right?
Amanda Blackledge: Yeah, I mean it wasn't, don't get me wrong, we weren't going into it saying, 'First chance we get, we're U-Turning Margie and Luke!' That would have been the dumbest move we could make. The smart thing to do is -- it really just depends on the situation.
If they were doing really terrible and were in the back of the pack, and then they obviously wouldn't be a threat, then there wouldn't be any reason to U-Turn them. We did decide that no matter what, we would use the U-Turn is we did get the chance -- the team we would U-Turn is dependant on the situation.
Amanda Blackledge: You want to use it smart, not just to get revenge and get back at them. We wanted to be strategic.
Kris Klicka: And like I said, we don't have any bad blood towards them, so at the end of the day, it's a race for a million bucks. You gotta do what you gotta do to get that million bucks.
Reality TV World: Because there were so many teams from your season, it seemed like Margie and Luke fell back into their old ways with Cara Rosenthal and Jaime Edmondson and stuff like that, but we didn't really see any of you guys working with any other teams from your season. Was that kind of a conscious decision on your part or did you just not have the opportunity?
Kris Klicka: Well, we weren't really with that one big group. If you saw in the first leg is was [LaKisha Hoffman] and [Jen Hoffman] and [Mallory Ervin] and us, so we definitely -- I mean, yeah, we kind of didn't want to really ride anyone's coat-tails -- it kind of seemed like Jaime and Cara basically got through the whole leg because they were working with them.
I don't know, we kind of wanted to do our own thing on our own accord and not trust anybody because obviously from our last experience, we realized that we can't -- we have to take everything with a grain of salt with everything someone says to you.
Amanda Blackledge: We definitely went into this Race knowing that -- learning from last time that so many people lied to us -- we just wanted to do more things on our own rather than, 'Oh you have the information? Okay, share it.'
Okay, well this time, we're going to double check that information as opposed to just believing them. So, we didn't really have the opportunity to either because like Kris said, we weren't really with that pack.
Reality TV World: Out of the 10 other teams that were there, were there any that you were surprised to see?
Kris Klicka: We didn't really know what to expect, but it was a surprise to see so many people from our cast, definitely. But it wasn't a shocker like, 'Oh my gosh, I didn't think they'd be on it,' or anything like that. I mean, it was all people that -- most of them we've met before too -- yeah.
Amanda Blackledge: It was kind of funny too, because some of the people we went up against are teams that I was rooting for. I mean, I really liked [Zev Glassenberg] and [Justin Kanew]. I really liked the "Cowboys" [Jet McCoy and Cord McCoy] -- them not being my competition, you know, it kind of changed.
Reality TV World: How about teams that weren't there -- were there any teams that you had been expecting to be there or felt deserved to be there that weren't?
Kris Klicka: No, I mean, like I said, it was just good to see people that we hadn't seen in awhile that we have relationships with now, but yeah, there wasn't anyone that we'd say we were stoked to be there with. It was just cool to see the people that were there and we were happy to see a lot of different people from our cast, because obviously it helps out to already have a past relationship with somebody.
Reality TV World: From watching at home, this season's clues actually seem to be "clues" that need to be solved and not just directions about what to do next like a lot of the show's recent seasons seem to have been. Did you feel that way while you were out there and if so, did that surprise you?
Amanda Blackledge: We definitely felt that way about the "sail to stop." When we first got that clue, we asked different people that were walking around that had iPhones and smartphones and they would look it up and nothing would come up on Google.
So, that really confused us and then we decided that, 'Okay, well if it's not coming up on Google then it's not a person or a place or a thing. It has to be some kind of riddle,' which really threw us off. But yeah, when we were driving around aimlessly for hours and couldn't figure that out, I was definitely thinking that this clue sucks.
Reality TV World: You guys got off to a rough start in Palm Springs and were shown getting pretty stressed out and acknowledging you were clueless about the answer until Kris seemed to have an epiphany that Qantas was the answer. How did you finally get the answer and about how long do you think it took you guys to finish that task?
Kris Klicka: You know what, that timeframe, it was so muddled that it went by in a flash. You got everybody running around and you're trying to focus on what you need to find, and so I really have no idea how long that took. But I did kind of have an "A-Ha!" moment after everybody had kind of gone away and then I really thought about the clue. I then put the letters together and went, 'Oh my God. It's Qantas.' So, little bit too late though.
Reality TV World: What went through your minds when you discovered you had received the U-Turn? I know you were discouraged, but were you optimistic you had a good chance of surviving it or did you begin thinking it was likely to do you in like a deja vu feeling?
Amanda Blackledge: I think at first, we thought it was like an automatic -- like there's no way we have a chance -- and then we got to the airport and some of the other teams encouraged us and they pointed out, 'Hey you know, in past seasons, there's not always a Detour on the first leg of the Race.'
That's when we realized, 'Oh my God, we're not necessarily going to have to do this right away. We might have a shot to get ahead -- to make up for it.' But, so we had a little hope when we started talking to other teams, but then that went down the drain.
Kris Klicka: And the way it played out too -- we would have gotten on the first flight to the Outback -- I mean, I think we could have overcome that U-Turn, because like I said, we were only five minutes behind Ron and Christina. And if we didn't have that other thing to do, then obviously we would have been a lot father ahead.
Reality TV World: You guys lucked out when you got on the second flight to Sydney Australia in the premiere episode because of the sick passenger who apparently had a heart attack. Did you have any idea about that at the time? When did you find out, and what were your thoughts?
Amanda Blackledge: Yeah, actually, it was about an hour or 45 minutes before our plane was going to land and we were sitting a couple rows behind [Gary Ervin] and Mallory and we heard them talking to the captain about something.
So, we walked over there and it turned out the captain checked the status of the other flight and he told us that -- he didn't say anything about the heart attack -- he said there were thunderstorms circling around them so their flight was delayed.
And he said, 'They're either going to land around the same time or a little bit after you guys.' So we knew at that point that they weren't too far ahead, but we still didn't know that we were going to be way ahead of them.
Then when we got one of our clues in Sydney, right before the Oceanworld, that's when we found out the guy said, 'You're the first team to arrive.' So, we knew we were in first and that's when we knew the second plane hadn't landed yet.
Kris Klicka: Yeah, and we thought we had a little glimmer of hope like, 'Okay maybe we can overcome this.' We really wanted to get that Express Pass because that would have been a game-changer for us.
Reality TV World: So the early-landing flight pretty much eliminated the anxiety you had about the U-Turn then right?
Kris Klicka: Yeah, it definitely alleviated a little bit, but I guess in the back of our heads, we just kept saying to ourselves, 'Let's just try and power through this and get as far up in the front of the pack as possible and then hopefully it won't send us home.'
Reality TV World: Amanda, you opted to do the Roadblock task of swimming in the shark tank. How did you guys decide who was going to do it, and did either one of you have any concerns about that fact that you were swimming with sharks?
Amanda Blackledge: Well actually, on our ferry over there, we saw some brochures for Oceanworld and opened them up and sure enough, there's all these things talking about how you can swim with sharks. So, right away, we knew we were going to be swimming with the sharks. We just knew it, but I actually have a fear of heights.
I think it would be really hard to do a bungee jump for something like that, and I also have trouble with stick-shifts, so going into the Race, we told ourselves that, 'Any Roadblock where we know I won't have to drive a stick and we know doesn't have to do with heights, I should probably do it.'
So, of course I didn't want to do the task, but then Kris looked at me and he was like, 'Yeah, but you know babe, stick shift and heights?' And that's when I said, 'Okay, I'll do it.'
Kris Klicka: Yeah, we were just thinking that later down the road, you know, because we both have to do the same number of Roadblocks, and we were thinking that, 'This would be a good one for her to get out of the way and we knew that...' but we hadn't known about the puzzle. Amanda's good at puzzles too, which helped out. Yeah, that was our rationale behind that.
Reality TV World: What did you think about the fact that the first Pit Stop didn't have a rest period or elimination? Were you frustrated that you ended up being the first team eliminated instead of Jet and Cord, who managed to survive despite getting to the first Pit Stop way behind everyone else?
Kris Klicka: It was a bummer. That would have changed the whole game right there if they got sent home then and who knows what would happen. But, we were tired and we'd been traveling for -- I mean, literally over a day -- running miles and miles and we were hot and sweaty, so to hear Phil say, 'Okay, you guys are still going!' Was like , 'Oh, really?'
Amanda Blackledge: I actually almost threw up in a bush like five minutes before we checked into Phil, so hearing him tell me that we had to turn around and go all the way back -- I wasn't too excited.
Reality TV World: You left the first Pit Stop at Shelly Beach in second place but then arrived at the anchor in Sydney's town hall in next to last place. It looked like you got lost, but viewers didn't get to see too many details -- what happened, anything specific?
Amanda Blackledge: Yeah, well when we left Phil, we ran back the way we came and we ran into Gary and Mallory and had stopped at a cafe and there were a bunch of people around and they were asking different people to look it up on the iPhones and smartphones.
We tried to get the information and Gary and Mallory mentioned that they had the hostess order them a cab, so we went in and we're waiting for our cab as well, and nobody could find anything on their phones. So, Gary and Mallory left in their taxi and then Jen and LaKisha that we got a cab, so they ordered one as well. Then we got in ours and we just kind of started going around Sydney.
Someone told us that the opera house looks like sails, so it's known around there as -- people refer to it as "the sails" -- so we went there thinking that might be the Pit Stop, but yeah, because we didn't find it on Google, that really messed us up.
I guess the other teams that looked it up on an actual computer -- it was on like the second page down or something -- so looking on an iPhone was kind of hard to go through that many searches. So, that's really what messed us up.
Kris Klicka: And I even got the cab driver's phone and we were calling all his buddies and people that grew up in Sydney. No one seemed to know what the heck it was. So, we were confused.
We were like, 'What the heck is going on here!?' We can't find it online, nobody around here knows where it is,' and it wasn't until we ran into Gary and Mallory and Ron and Christina and they were having the same issues. Finally, we came upon somebody who said, 'Oh yeah! That's actually next to the Town Hall, so we all ended up taking the train down to Town Hall.
Reality TV World: You guys are in a unique position given the U-Turn has booted you out of the game twice essentially. So what is your general opinion about the U-Turn feature at this point -- do you think it's a fair part of the game or do you think it's something that should be done away with?
Amanda Blackledge: Well you know, it's part of the game and they want to make a TV show out of it. If by throwing in the U-Turn it helps make people change places, as far as the placement they come in and the order, it makes for good TV when someone goes from first to last. So, I don't think it's anything that they're going to get rid of. It is part of the game, so it's fair play. We can't complain.
Kris Klicka: We wish it didn't happen of course. If that didn't happen it would have changed the whole thing for us, but it is what it is.
Reality TV World: Do you think this season's use of it -- where it was something the last team to finish the first task got stuck with -- is a fairer approach than your first season, where another team got to decide?
Kris Klicka: I liked it better when you had another team decide rather than just right off the bat. Especially for us going into it, that was the one thing that we were looking forward to -- was to be able to really play the game -- come out and not have to do a U-Turn. But sure enough, right off the bat, we screw ourselves and we start off with a U-Turn. So, it was just a big bummer.
Reality TV World: You guys seemed to be in pretty decent shape going into the final Detour as were the eighth team to arrive at the Detour but slipped to next-to-last even before you had to do the second Detour task because of the U-Turn -- what happened there, was there any main cause or were the teams just really close at that point?
Amanda Blackledge: Well when we showed up to the mosaic, everyone from the first flight was already there. So, it was really just we were going up against the people who were on our same flight, and we did it pretty fast. We didn't get stuck on anything in particular. We did it pretty fast, like I said. We were just on the second flight so everyone that was on that first flight had such a leg up.
Kris Klicka: They had a lot more time than us. It was basically us just trying to keep fighting and get through the next half as fast as possible. We knew everybody was doing the mosaic, so we decided to do that first in case we had any slip-ups. You could look over to your left or right to see what they were doing and that was our whole plan behind that and I think it worked out -- not the way we wanted it to.
Amanda Blackledge: It could have been a lot worse too because we almost couldn't find the second task, because it was like down in some ditch. So, that could have screwed us up. We almost didn't find it.
Reality TV World: Can you discuss the "Natural World" task because a little of it was shown and you were the only team who attempted to do it. Did it take you very long to complete and what did that paint taste like -- I'm assuming that must have been some kind of natural, non-toxic paint, right?
Kris Klicka: It felt like you were in kindergarten again -- eating mud you know?
Amanda Blackledge: It tasted like dirt. It was actually clay powder and then you added water to make it clay-water, I guess.
Kris Klicka: Yeah, you had to get the clay and the water mixed together at the right consistency, so it wasn't like you were just spewing water. It was more like a misty dirt.
Reality TV World: So given how tight things were between Ron and Christina and yourselves, it sounds like you definitely feel the U-Turn was the key to your elimination and that you would have been able to keep ahead of them and finish in tenth place otherwise?
Amanda Blackledge: I think that's absolutely the case to say, because we were only about five minutes behind Ron and Christina, if that. That task definitely took us over five minutes out of our way, as well as missing that first flight.
I mean, had we found the "sail to stop" sooner and got on that first flight, we would have definitely been in before Ron and Christina. So, yeah, the U-Turn as definitely the cause for why we're out, but can we blame anyone other than ourselves? No. (laughs)
Reality TV World: The kangaroo costume task seemed to be the type of task where some of the younger, more fit teams could have an advantage and possibly been able to catch up to some of the other teams, but that didn't happen in your case. Were those springs on your feet kind of a great equalizer or sorts or were you two just too far behind at that point?
Kris Klicka: We were just too far behind. I think it made it look like the front pack was kind of right there, when in actuality, they were quite a ways ahead of us. When we got to the football stadium to put the costumes on, we didn't see -- there was no other team there -- and we didn't actually see Ron and Christina until we got to the next clue box.
They were getting in their car driving to the Pit Stop right then. So, we were just in a mad dash to rip open that clue as soon as possible and try to get in the car and get there before them.
Reality TV World: When you came back this season, you were engaged and no longer just dating. When did that happen and how'd it occur?
Amanda Blackledge: We got engaged in July and Kris proposed. He surprised me on the beach at sunset with a table with tiki torches and candles and there was a ring hidden underneath a shell on the table he had.
So yeah, it definitely surprised me and turned out we're going to look at -- we're planning our wedding -- and I think we're aiming for 2012 now since the Race came up at about the same time since the proposal. So, we couldn't really plan for both. About The Author:Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.