December 6, 2019

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'Not everybody thinks like a Canadian'

Season 4 of cross-country reality competition enters starting blocks

CTV</p><p>Amazing Race Canada host Jon Montgomery.</p>

CTV

Amazing Race Canada host Jon Montgomery.

Much of the appeal of any reality-competition TV series lies in the suspense, surprises, and who-gets-eliminated-next secrecy — so, of course, Jon Montgomery isn’t sharing many details of the new season of The Amazing Race Canada.

But the Manitoba-born host of the popular CTV series — which returns for its fourth season Tuesday at 9 p.m. — did offer this one little teaser about the Race’s out-of-the-blocks opener:

CTV</p><p>Amazing Race Canada host Jon Montgomery with the 2016 contestants.</p>

CTV

Amazing Race Canada host Jon Montgomery with the 2016 contestants.

"We are starting Season 4 in Yellowknife, and the beginning of the season has a stunt that is going to blow all the other stunts we’ve done out of the water. It will be a new measure for craziness in terms of the challenges the racers are presented with."

And that’s saying something, because during its first three seasons, The Amazing Race Canada has given its two-person teams of contestants all they could handle when it comes to the physical, mental, and psychological challenges faced while racing back and forth and up and down through Canada and, occasionally, to far-flung international destinations.

Montgomery confirmed the fourth season takes its new crop of adventurers outside Canada’s borders twice, but he’s quick to add it’s the way in which The Amazing Race Canada showcases this country’s grandeur and beauty that sets CTV’s version of the Race apart from its U.S.-network counterpart.

"The best part of this show, for me, is exploring Canadian themes and ideals for Canadians," says the former Olympian from Russell, Man., who now calls Victoria home. "It really is kind of a postcard to Canadians, and inspiring Canadians to explore their country and celebrate what we have here is, I think, the greatest spinoff from having a show like this on our TVs in the summertime."

Montgomery adds there’s also something unique about the way folks in this country function in the reality-competition environment.

"It’s the Canadians that make this version unique, absolutely," he says. "The way that we approach each other, the way that we approach tasks, the way we approach strangers on the street for help, and the way those strangers in the street reciprocate, sometimes offering help where it isn’t even asked for — those are all elements that separate our version from the other (U.S.) version," he says.

"It’s being competed on by Canadians, and they bring their own flavour to the show. While we’ve got dynamic personalities and great characters, we’ve got people who embody a set of Canadian ideals, which makes us kind of special in this world. Not everybody thinks like a Canadian."

As a former competitive athlete (he was the gold medallist in skeleton at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver), Montgomery admits it is sometimes hard to watch all those other Canucks do the racing while he’s handling the Race’s hosting and narrating duties. He does, however, make it his business to try out all the challenges before the competitors arrive on the scene during each episode’s frantic scramble to the next checkpoint.

"I do all the stunts, so we can display the challenges to the home audience in a physical way rather than with just a verbal description," he says. "So for me, as a competitive person, getting to participate by trying my hand at it is enough."

When asked to assess his chances if he was actually a contestant in The Amazing Race Canada, Montgomery provides a quick but thorough analysis.

"In terms of the Race itself, I think my wife and I would do terribly at navigational challenges, and I think I would be deplorable at any dancing challenges," he says with a laugh. "I would welcome the really physical stunts; I’d be scared to death but I don’t mind scaring myself. And I would be grossed out by the eating challenges but I would grin and bear it and garble up anything I was required to eat. The question, of course, would be whether or not I could keep it down."

What the new season of The Amazing Race Canada doesn’t have in its mix of distinctly Canadian characteristics, however, is any competitors from Manitoba. For the first time, there are no Manitobans in the 10-team field, which is made up of four tandems from Ontario, three from Alberta, and one each from Quebec, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia.

"Brian and Cynthia (from Season 3) were big enough personalities that they can last Manitoba for a couple of years," he says. "But we’ll have to get some Manitobans back into the mix for next season. Maybe this article can help with that job: tell Manitobans that Jon Montgomery says to get those (audition) entries in because we need more reps on the show."

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @BradOswald

Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives Editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

Read full biography

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