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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Collingswood High Grad Wins 'Amazing Race'! 

So much for having a headstart. At the first airport, Collingswood High grad B.J. Averell and hippie pal Tyler MacNiven suddenly plummeted to first to third (and last) place in last night's Amazing Race finale. "Frat boys" Eric and Jeremy and dating Ray and Yolanda arrive in Tokyo more than an hour earlier. Tasks there included scanning giant video screens at the world's busiest intersection for a clue, then either toting a woman in a tent dangling from poles, or assembling and pedaling tiny bikes through crazy Tokyo traffic. When the love birds get lost, Shaggy and Scruffy claw into second place. Tyler, post-biking: "God, that was so much fun!" Then it's onto a hotel where people sleep in capsules! (Reminds me of the Seinfeld where Kramer charges tourists to sleep overnight in his oversized dresser drawers.) Next morning, when one frat guy points to "Mount Tokyo," the other says, "Dumb ass, it must be Mount Fuji." Onto to world-class amusement park Fujiku, where the bearded one catch up. "Those hippies and their damn language knowing!" says an F.B. During ride three straight thrill rides, Tyler whooing and screaming , of course, teams have to spot a man with a message. It names a lake, next destination. Hippies outpedal their duck-like boats to the big swan boat, and for arriving first, win T-Mobile Sidekicks. "The last leg. It's going to be deadly," vows the blond F.B. "It's on." Ray and Yolanda, arriving third, aren't eliminated, but have to surrender all their money and possessions, except for passports. Then it's on to Anchorage! "The way we approach our lives is with wide-eyed enthusiasm and joy," says the loquacious Tyler, like Penn to more Teller-like BJ, at least on this episode. At a hotel, the hippies ask the desk clerks to lie to anyone asking about Internet access. Scoundrels! So much for peace and love: This is for $1 million. Ruse kind of backfires, however, when the frat boys actually nab an early flight first leg of the flight. But all three teams are suddenly together in the Taipei airport, waiting for the same Anchorage flight. In Alaska, they're soon dilling holes in frozen Mirror Lake, and shoving a fishing shed in place over the holes. Tyler: "I'm just nothing but skin bones and attitude." Then it's onto a park where the hirsute brainics run around looking for snowshoes, which were propped up in plain sight all along. Tyler skips in his like a tall Pee-Wee Herman. Clue found. Says: On to Denver, where the journey began. Frat boys grouse: "We love being ahead and having everbody catch us at the airport." In Denver, it's a taxi race to a park, where a field is covering with 285 flags, one for each country in the world. Final challenge: Find the nine for each of the countries the contestants visited, and put them in order. The FBs arrive first, and already have several flags when the hipsters arrive. It's up to BJ to do this task. Yikes, the graphic on the screen says he has every flag except the first one wrong! The other guys have mistakes, too. But wait! It's not that BJ has the wrong flags. He'd just skipped Russia's. He finds it, shifts the others and, hello!, yes, that's it, and they sprint for the finish (that's B.J. on left in picture). Previously eliminated contestants cheer and scream. The host guy says, "Five continents, nine countries, more than 59,000 miles ... BJ and Tyler, you are the official winners of The Amazing Race! Congratulations. You guys have won the $1 million."

But the prize won't change the dudes, though they admit the race did. Tyler: "If it's this successful to be hippies, we might as well stay hippies." Then he crams in a speech, which includes: "Maybe we can really do what we really to do in this life. It's really unreal," saying he looked people everywhere in the eye "and tried to give them some of our adventure energy in return." The frat boys are good, if semi-depressed sports, moping about going back to waiting tables and explaining they're not frat boys, "We're college dropouts." Finally, Harvard grad BJ muscles out his own speech: "I think that on this race, being cerebral or being intelligent doesn't help as much being in the moment and being aware of what's happening around you, and it's just great to stay positive and just really enjoy each other's company, and our friendship is what got us through it." Tyler gets the last word, of course, with more talk about "enthusiasm and joy" and how "we take as much as we can and give back as much as we can." Actually was "Amazing." (For more, go to

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