Exclusive: Ronald Hsu and Christina Hsu talk 'The Amazing Race'
By Reality TV World staff, 04/12/2011
Ronald Hsu and Christina Hsu became the fifth returning team eliminated from The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business during Sunday night's broadcast of the seventh episode of the CBS reality competition's all-stars edition.
On Monday, the "Father and Daughter" team talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business experience -- including what happened to Ron during the Roadblock task that led to their elimination, how Christina's relationship with new husband and former twelfth-season Racer Azaria Azene came about, and their thoughts on this season's time-penalty controversies.
Reality TV World: Ron, did you really eat that much more than everyone else on the Race, or were the editors just having fun with you?
Ronald Hsu: (Laughs) I do enjoy eating, because that's one of the things I wanted to show Christina. She enjoyed eating as well -- but the main thing is -- the point that I was trying to make was that each country has its local cuisine, but more importantly, in the super legs, you don't get all the food that you need.
So, I was trying to basically eat really economical street food that was safe and with the little taxi money we had to spare, we had to use to buy food. I didn't want to be famished and then go onto another leg, because I didn't want to lose focus. So, yeah there were some overblown proportions (laughs) -- where the small fishes were done after we went to the Pit Stop -- it wasn't during the Race.
I wasn't losing focus on just trying to get food during the Race, but after the racing, we made sure that we were replenished. [In one case] we basically had a super leg where no food was available because we would be still racing, so I wanted to make sure we were replenished.
Reality TV World: Ron, what happened to you during the Roadblock on last night's episode? I know you guys were already pretty far down in fifth place when you got to the Roadblock, but the episode made it look like you still had a nice lead on [Jet McCoy] and [Cord McCoy] -- why do you think you struggled with the task more than some of the other teams?
Ronald Hsu: I took the wrong road. I didn't see any racers on that road and I didn't see any sadhus, but when I went down to the Ganges River, I saw one. So that reinforced my original thinking that holy men are near the holy places, particularly the Ganges River, which is [considered] a sacred river by the holy men there.
People wanted to be there so they could cleanse themselves. So I went from one end of the Ganges to the other, and that was my downfall of going through this arduous leg there, the Ganges River, when I should have just turned back to my starting point and went on another street.
Christina Hsu: Yeah, I think my Dad asked a local man where the sadhus were and he said, "Usually down by the river." If you read any book on Varanasi, that's usually where they are, but not on that day, not on this Race they weren't. So, it was just not a lucky day for us.
Ronald Hsu: Yeah, they were on a busy commercial street.
Reality TV World: Christina, this may be a better question for you since you were the one waiting for him, but about how long were you guys there attempting to complete that Roadblock? Do you have any idea?
Christina Hsu: No, unfortunately we don't. I wish we timed it. I'm curious now after watching last night's episode, but yeah, I wish I timed it, especially after watching last night's episode. It's hard to say. I mean, in the Race, every second feels like an hour.
So, in my mind, it felt like there was so much time to make up, but we were told afterwards -- later on down the road -- that we weren't that far behind [Kynt "Kent" Cothron] and [Vyxsin Fiala]. So, I think it may have been close.
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We'll never know, but one thing my Dad and I went in to the Race and kind of how my Dad lives life is that he will never give up. We were determined to finish the leg and get to the Pit Stop as quickly as we could.
Reality TV World: About how far ahead of Jet and Cord did you guys get to the Roadblock -- were you still an hour ahead like you'd been on the plane flights, or had they already managed to close the gap a bit by that point?
Christina Hsu: Well, Jet and Cord closed the gap when they finished the Roadblock before my Dad returned, but it wasn't soon after then that they left that my Dad came back from the Roadblock. So, again, it's hard to say. It felt like a long time, but we were told it wasn't. But, we'll never know and we just don't have any regrets on how we played it.
Reality TV World: Christina, you were shown mentioning that you were hoping your Dad was staying calm while he was doing the Roadblock -- was that a big concern for you?
Christina Hsu: You know, it was mainly because of Varanasi. There's like a lot of beauty in the chaos, and there are people playing chicken on the streets and elephants and monkeys and cows on the streets. So, it's a hard place to navigate, and that was really why I was hoping that he'd remain with a cool head.
I think he did a really good job considering he got bad directions and he was sent on a whole other path. So, it was more of the context of Varanasi and when he finally got back from the Roadblock, I was relieved to know that he was fine because it was really hot that day. He just didn't have any water on him and I was worried he was getting dehydrated.
Reality TV World: Ron, the show portrayed you as someone who has a bit of a hard time staying calm. You threw your shoe once at a bus...
Ronald Hsu: (Laughs) That was actually a jelly pack.
Ronald Hsu: It was less than five feet. It was not like my neighbor [who] thought it was a rock.
Christina Hsu: I know, everyone has their own theory. "It was a rock, It was a shoe." But it was a little, little jelly pack.
Reality TV World: ... okay, whatever it was, like I said, viewers also saw Christina expressing concern about you staying calm. So do you think the show gave an accurate edit of you or do you think that wasn't the case?
Ronald Hsu: Well, that was -- I love the Race -- the intensity of the pressure, we had our moments. But most of the time, we were pretty calm and communicative.
You know, the fear of elimination and then when we're going to be dead last, that was the pressure of the moment that gives into some of these quirky comments I make. But overall, I think we just enjoyed the Race and have such great memories.
Reality TV World: Christina, last night's episode had shown you saying you had known the cowboys were going to be able to catch up -- why had you been so sure about that?
Christina Hsu: Mainly because I knew the cowboys are a formidable team, and in adversity and when watching their season, when there's a deficit, they'll do anything to catch up.
So, the later flight they were on -- it kind of looks like they were on this much later flight and they were never going to catch up -- it actually wasn't that much later than ours. So, it was partly that and it was also partly that I knew that they both are a formidable team and that was where that comment came from.
Reality TV World: So what was your mindset once Jet and Cord passed you -- were you optimistic you were going to be able to catch back up to them, or were you basically just hoping someone else would slip up?
Christina Hsu: I think our mindset was just, "Keep going. Do our best, and don't make any mistakes." I think we really executed that well in terms of choosing the right Detour.
We took awhile to decide what Detour to take, and we chose "Feed the Buffalo" because we thought it wasn't going to take as much time as the other one. It turned out that was the case.
So, yeah, there's always an added pressure when you know that you're at the bottom of the pack, and the worst thing you can do is panic, and I feel like my Dad did a good job in staying cool. We just moved forward together as a team.
Reality TV World: Christina, congratulations on your engagement. When is your wedding?
Christina Hsu: We actually got married earlier this spring, so he's my husband now.
Reality TV World: A lot of viewers were surprised when you just casually mentioned your fiance is Azaria Azene -- who raced against you and your dad with his sister [Hendekea Azene] on The Amazing Race's twelfth season -- on the show a few weeks ago. When did you two start dating? Was that something that started when you two were on the Race? Was it right after? How did that come about?
Christina Hsu: Yeah, no. It was completely after the show. During the show, I think my Dad and I naturally gravitated toward Azaria and Hendekea. They're just so positive and they're -- we share the same family values and we were kind of there just to see the world together.
Hendekea and I became really close after the show and Azaria and I just started talking over the phone long distance after the show had aired. It was after the filming, after everything.
When your conversations go from 20 minutes to four hours, there's definitely something worth exploring there, and we just grew and decided that it was worth being together.
It's been nothing but wonderful. He's my best friend, my soulmate, and I'm very, very lucky. Despite -- even though we didn't win The Amazing Race [Season] 12 -- I feel like we did win. We got the real prize of true love and yeah, we're just happy.
Reality TV World: The first all-star edition of The Amazing Racedid had Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner -- who also met while competing on different teams on Season 9 -- come back and compete as a new team for the Season 11. Did the producers ever approach Azaria and yourself about doing the same this season?
Christina Hsu: No, you know the producers -- we got the call from CBS and it was an invitation for me and my Dad -- we were so excited. It was a perfect opportunity to spend more time together before I got married. Yeah, and Azaria was nothing but supportive. He was so excited for us. So, it was an invitation for my Dad and me from the get-go.
Reality TV World: Did you guys ever discuss the possibility that Azaria and his sister could be invited back as well? Some viewers thought it would have been interesting to see an engaged couple competing against each other on different teams instead of the same one like the show usually does.
Ronald Hsu: Yeah, that would have been great! We were hoping that they would be invited back, but that was not the plan. But that would have been great if they were invited.
Reality TV World: There'd seem to be a decent chance that this leg could have been a non-elimination given they seem to be moving those up to the Race's earlier legs the last couple of seasons. Were you thinking that could be a possibility on your way to the Pit Stop or did you just think you were in a race with Kent and Vyxsin for the last spot?
Ronald Hsu: We were hoping that either somebody would stumble or that it would be a non-elimination leg or whatever, but we just were hoping for the best, but it was not meant to be that day.
Reality TV World: How confident had you guys been that the water taxi was going to be quicker, and do you still feel it was and Kent and Vyxsin just had too big a lead on you, or do you actually think the water taxi ended up being slower?
Christina Hsu: Well we thought it was -- we were told it was going to be quicker -- and then once we got on the water taxi, my Dad found out from our water taxi driver that there was actually a speed limit on the Ganges.
Ronald Hsu: We found out when we got back. -- (laughs) -- not before we got on it and negotiated the race. He just pointed to the other side of the river and that's where it is. From point "A" to point "B," it was the shortest distance to go on a riverboat, but unfortunately, there was a speed limit on the water taxi.
Reality TV World: You guys were involved in the incident when Flight Time and Big Easy moved your fanny pack and producers gave them a time penalty for it. Can you talk about that a little bit? Did you guys bring the incident up because you were looking for a time penalty to be assessed, or how did that come about?
Christina Hsu: No, that's a good question, because we were just as surprised as the viewers watching it. We watched the episode and we thought it was really odd and oddly entertaining the way it all came out. What happened is when my Dad and I hit the mat initially, we just checked in. We didn't -- we were happy -- we made it to the mat.
We had planned -- because Flight Time and Big Easy are our friends -- we planned to talk with them afterwards. But then we were pulled back to the mat and that was when we were told they got a penalty and we were asked to talk about our experience. There was nothing, no way, we would have ever wished a time penalty upon them.
Flight Time and Big Easy are our friends before the incident and after the incident. Even though it did cost us a lot of time -- watching Flight Time look for it up on the top of the mountain -- we knew it was just a mistake or a misunderstanding. We know Flight Time and Big Easy, so yeah, we didn't seek out a penalty. There was none of that.
That may have been what was portrayed, but we were just as surprised as everyone else when we were told that that was what happened. But yeah, we actually hit the mat twice that night, and the first time we hit the mat, we were happy with our standing and we were ready to just get food and rest.
Yeah, Flight Time -- he's played in basketball games in DC and Seattle -- my Dad and I have both gone to watch him, and my Dad calls Big Easy infectious happiness. They're just such a joy to race with. They were really, I think, we're really excited they're still in the game.
Reality TV World: The other big controversy this season was how Kent and Vyxsin only received a 30-minute time penalty when they missed the mandatory flight from Japan to China and took another flight instead of waiting a full day for the next flight of the mandatory flight.
When I interviewed Jaime Edmondson and Cara Rosenthal a few weeks ago, they claimed most of the other teams were really upset about that and considered "revolting" against the producers over the shortness of that penalty. Was that true, and were you two one of the teams that got upset? What was your take on that?
Christina Hsu: My Dad and I, I think we were asked earlier about this. We both felt like -- okay, so what happened was -- all the teams, I guess, they all obeyed the rule. They took the required flight. There was actually a better earlier flight that we all found and we all wanted to take.
Christina Hsu: We chose to forego that flight, that better earlier flight, because we wanted to obey -- we didn't want to violate the rules. I think if we had known the penalty was only going to be 30 minutes, we would have all violated the rules and all got on the earlier flight. We're all racers, you know?
So, I think what Jaime and Cara's sentiments are about the other teams being similarly upset is first of all, I think we just didn't appreciate the blatant deceit, but secondly, they violated a rule that traditionally would have been a longer penalty.
That was why all the teams decided not to take the earlier flight, and so everyone else -- it's water under the bridge -- it's not a big deal now. I certainly wouldn't call it revolting. I would just say that it's the stack of cards that we all got and Kent and Vyxsin got lucky. I mean, a 30-minute penalty is really not that big of a hit, so they just got lucky. 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.