Jennifer Hopka and Preston McCamy cut from 'The Amazing Race 14'
By John Bracchitta, 02/16/2009
"Dating Couple" Jennifer Hopka and Preston McCamy's constant bickering and inability to win a final sprint to the finish line led to them becoming the first couple eliminated from the fourteenth season of The Amazing Race during last night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.
"[Preston's] super committed and that's why I'm upset because I feel like I let him down," said Jennifer, a 26-year-old student from Colombia, SC, as she broke into tears following the announcement that her team had been eliminated.
"Nah, she didn't let me down," Preston, a 28-year-old software engineer from Columbia, SC as well, added later. "I feel like she did as much as she could."
"Even though we fight and we bicker, we love each other," added Jennifer. "We actually came to the Race and were like it's gonna make or break our relationship, so I actually think it's a gonna [more than make us]. I wanna spend the rest of my life with Preston."
The Amazing Race 14's premiere episode began with the eleven teams flying into a California National Guard and Army Reserve base in Southern California where they met The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan at the race's starting line. The teams were told that -- following Phil's sign -- they would run across the base to their luggage where they would receive for first clue for the competition.
"The world is waiting for you," Phil told the teams. "Good luck, travel safe, GO!"
The teams all raced to their luggage and received their first clue, which told them to choose between two flights out of Los Angeles International airport: a 3:35PM Lufthansa flight to Zurich, Switzerland or a 4PM Air France flight to Milan, Italy. Once the teams arrived at either of their destinations they would then travel by train to Locarno, Switzerland where they would receive their next clue at the Church of San Antonio.
After arriving at the airport, the "Sibling Lawyers" team Tammy Jih, a 26-year-old lawyer from Los Angeles, CA, and Victor Jih a 35-year-old lawyer from Los Angeles, CA as well, decided that it only made sense to try for the flight that left earlier and hope they were making the right decision.
"We didn't want to deliberately choose the one that left later," Victor said. "The big question of the day is 'Did we make the right decision or wrong decision?' And the idea of [not] knowing who or what is happening with a whole other group of people is very anxiety inducing."
Victor and Tammy both ended up on the Lufthansa flight, along with the "Flight Attendants" team of Christie Volkmer, a 37-year-old flight attendant from Choctaw, OK and Jodi Wincheski, a 40-year-old flight attendant from Houston, TX; the "Former NFL Cheerleaders" team of Cara Rosenthal, a 26-year-old law student from Boca Raton, FL, and Jaime Edmondson, a 29-year-old former police officer from Ft. Lauderdale, FL; the "Brothers/Stuntmen" team of Mark Munoz, a 48-year-old stuntman/jockey from Los Angeles, CA and his brother Michael Munoz, a 51-year-old stuntman/actor from Maui, HI; the "Married Couple" team of Brad Hunt, a 52-year-old distribution dispatcher, his wife Victoria Hunt, a 47-year-old tax manager, both of whom reside in Columbus, OH; and the "Mother and Son" team of Margie Adams, a 51-year-old clinical research associate from Denver, CO and her deaf son Luke Adams, a 23-year-old recent college graduate.
Departing on the later Air France flight were the "Sisters" team of Jennifer Hoffman, a 24-year-old marketing assistant from Louisville, KY and LaKisha Hoffman, a 28-year-old program coordinator from Bronx, NY -- who received advice that the train ride from Milan to Locarno was shorter than the one from Zurich; the "Father and Son" team of Mel White, a 68-year-old writer/clergyman from Lynchberg, VA and his son Mike White, a 38-year-old writer, producer and actor from Santa Monica, CA; the "Dating Couple" team of Amanda Blackledge, a 23-year-old student from San Diego, CA and Kris Klicka, a 24-year-old sales representative from San Diego, CA; Preston and Jennifer; and the "Married Couple" team of Steve Cole, a 43-year-old carpenter and his wife Linda Cole a 52-year-old customer service supervisor, both of whom reside in Martinsville, VA.
Upon arriving at their destinations, none of the teams from the Lufthansa flight had any trouble finding the correct train to get on, due to the fact that the train station was located in the same building as the airport they arrived in.
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The teams on the Air France flight were not quite as lucky, as many teams were initially confused by the directions from the airport to the train station. While most of the teams were eventually able to find their way on time and make it to their train in time, Preston and Jennifer got lost and did not, forcing them to wait for the next train.
While on their train from Zurich, Victor dismissed any notions that Margie and Luke wouldn't be competitive because of communications created by Luke's inability to hear.
"Their communication between each other is amazing," he said. "Luke is just not capable, if not more capable, than everyone else here."
Once aboard the next train, neither Preston nor Jennifer held back their feelings for each other at the moment.
"He's frustrated, and I can't be around a frustrated Preston," Jennifer said. "It's annoying."
"You say stuff that just irritates me because you don't think," Preston responded. Maybe you need to control your mouth."
"I think our personalities are always in conflict. It's not just the race, [but] in real life," he added later.
While on the train from Zurich, Christie and Jodi met a woman who was also traveling to Locarno who informed them of a train that would get them into the city faster than the train they were on. The flight attendants followed the woman's advice, which turned out to be correct, and were the first team to arrive at the church in Locarno where they were met by a priest who had them sign up for one of three departure times -- 7:15AM, 7:30AM or 7:45AM -- the following morning and gave them directions to a camp site to spend the evening.
The train from Zurich was the first of the two trains to arrive at Locarno, allowing the teams of Tammie and Victor, Margie and Luke and Mark and Michael to sign up for the remaining 7:15AM departure times. The teams of Brad and Victoria and Jaime and Cara were the first two teams to sign up for the 7:30AM departure time.
"We beat Air France!" Victor exclaimed after arriving at the church.
The Milan train arrived later, with Mel and Mike grabbing the final 7:30AM departure time while the teams of LaKisha and Jennifer, Amanda and Kris, and Steve and Linda began filling out the 7:45AM departure times.
Preston Jennifer arrived last on their late train and got the final 7:45AM departure.
After signing in, the teams all reconvened at Parco Robinson, their camp site for the evening, and were able to formally meet each other for the first time. However, not all was positive at the camp as Steve got mad at Linda for her inability to move faster on her feet.
"You're just slow, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. You couldn't keep up," Steve told her.
"I'm sorry about that. If I could've [done] better I would've," Linda responded in tears. "I can't run and I feel really bad about it."
The following morning, the three teams with the 7:15AM departure teams were the first to leave after receiving their next clue instructing them to take a taxi to the Verzasca Dam.
Mark and Michael were the first team to find a taxi, and followed by Tammy and Victor and Margie and Luke. The 7:30AM group wasn't quite as fortunate with finding taxis, as Jaime and Cara were unable to find a cab while Mel and Mike found one and proceeded to the dam in fourth place. Brad and Victoria followed in fifth place.
Despite leaving at 7:45AM, Amanda and Kris were able to flag down a taxi and leave in seventh before Jaime and Cara finally found a cab to leave in eighth place. The teams of Steve and Linda, Preston and Jennifer and LaKisha and Jennifer rounded out the final three to find taxis and head to the dam.
Mark and Michael were the first to arrive at the dam's cluebox, where the teams learned that one member of their team had to complete a Roadblock task that required them to do a 70-story bungee jump off of the dam. However despite arriving at the cluebox first, Mark and Michael fell into second place when Tammy and Victor beat them to the actual bungee station.
Victor volunteered to do the jump for his team but openly acknowledged that bungee jumping was not something he had ever thought of doing before.
"I did not know going into that challenge if I had a fear of heights," he said. "I've never done something like that before or even thought about it."
Victor's jump from the dam was followed by subsequent jumps by Michael, Luke, Mike, Victoria, Jodi, Kris, Jaime, Preston, Jennifer and Steve, whose teams left for Interlaken in that order as well.
After completing the jump, the teams received clues instructing them to travel by train to the town of Interlaken and find Kleine Rugen Wiese to receive their next clue.
The teams of Victor and Tammy, Mark and Michael and Margie and Luke were able to leave on the next train to Interlaken. The teams of Brad and Victoria and Christie and Jodi arrived at the train station next and were told that they could decide between an earlier train that went through Lucerne or a later one that went through Italy. While Brad and Victoria told Christie and Jodi that they wanted to go on the train through Lucerne, they actually decided to go on the later train through Italy after learning that it was quicker.
Upon boarding the Lucerne train and discovering that Brad and Victoria were not aboard, Christie and Jodi were angered that they had been lied to.
After the first train arrived in Interlaken, Mel and Mike were the first team to arrive at the Kleine Rugen Wiese and receive a clue that told them each team had to trek up a slippery hill wearing antique cheese racks and transport four 50-pound cheese wheels down the hill from an aging shed. They were followed by Margie and Luke, Tammy and Victoria and Mark and Michael.
They were eventually followed by the teams of LaKisha and Jennifer, Cara and Jaime, Brad and Victoria, Amanda and Kris, Jennifer and Preston and Steve and Linda.
Christie and Jodi arrived much later than the other teams in last place, having been stuck on the train that Brad and Victoria had decided to avoid. However, the challenge proved to be extremely difficult for each of the teams, with many of their cheese racks breaking immediately as the contestants slid on the hill's wet grass and lost control as their cheese wheels, which careened down the hill as local residents mocked the racers.
With the exception of Brad and Victoria, the teams largely chose to abandon the cheese holders and instead try to slide down the hill with their cheese wheels.
After a great deal of struggling, Margie and Luke were the first team to complete the challenge and receive their a clue that instructed them to take a taxi to the local bus stop in Stechelberg and then listen for yodelers who were stationed at the Race's first Pit Stop location. Tammy and Victor completed the challenge soon after Margie and Luke and left in second place. After arriving at Stechelberg neck-and-neck, Margie and Luke were just able to get to the Pit Stop quicker and meet Phil, who informed them that they had won The Amazing Race's first leg.
"A lot of people thing deaf people can't do things, but deaf can do it, they can do exactly what hearing people can do but not talk," Luke signed to his mother while in tears after winning the leg. "I just wanna show people that deaf people can do it."
Margie and Luke were followed closely by Tammy and Victor, who finished in second place. Mark and Michael followed in third place, with Mel and Mike finishing next in fourth place. Amanda and Kris followed in fifth place.
Despite finishing the challenge in sixth place, Steve and Linda got lost trying to find the Pit Stop after getting confused by the echoes of the yodeling in the mountains, allowing the teams of Brad and Victoria, Jaime and Cara and LaKisha and Jennifer to finish in sixth, seventh, and eighth place before they finally found the Pit Stop to complete the race in ninth place.
The teams of Christie and Jodi and Preston and Jennifer both seemed to finish moving their cheese at the same time and arrived in Stechelberg at the same time. However, Christie and Jodi were able to sprint past Preston -- who was burdened by having to run while literally carrying Jennifer on his back, for some reason -- to get to the Pit Stop before them and finish in tenth place to narrowly avoid elimination.
Upon arriving at the Pit Stop moments later, Preston and Jennifer were informed by Phil that they had been eliminated from the competition.