Starting and Stopping with Amazing Race 15 Eliminees Eric and Lisa Paskel
by Reg Seeton
The Amazing Race 15 kicked off a new season of around the world globetrotting as 12 new teams met in Los Angeles to begin the race. However, before Amazing Race host, Phil Keoghan, gave the "go" to begin season 15, a new twist was revealed when Phil told the new Amazing Race teams one pair would be eliminated on the spot if they were the last team to select a Japanese license plate from the board in front of them.
When the race began, all 12 teams battled it out in the famous aqueducts of L.A. in a competitive first challenge to find the license plate and match up a symbol that would jet them off to Tokyo for the first leg of The Amazing Race 15. At the end of the first elimination challenge, married yoga teachers Eric and Lisa Paskel were eliminated from The Amazing Race before the heat of the race even began, becoming the first Amazing Race team ever to leave the race from the starting line.
The following morning we caught up with abruptly eliminated Amazing Race competitors, Eric and Lisa, for an exclusive chat to find out how they felt about being eliminated from The Amazing Race so early, how they handled the extreme swing of emotions, how their yoga helped them accept defeat so early, and what's in store for the future of Eric and Lisa post Amazing Race.
THE DEADBOLT: So what was going through your mind when you heard the twist about being eliminated?
LISA PAKEL: Some poor bastard is going to eat a sh*t sandwich in about two minutes.
ERIC PASKEL: Yeah. "I wonder who's going to take it," you know? It was surprising to hear because - The show has been around long enough to know that the contestants have to really make a lot of arrangements to make it work in their life. For some people I think this might be the biggest thing that ever happens to them, like this is the highlight in their life that they were on a TV show. Thank God for us that was not the case and my head just went to, "Man, I feel so bad for somebody; they're not going to be prepared for this and they're not even going to get a chance to get a taste of what this is like ...
LISA: What they signed on for.
ERIC: ... never thinking that it would be us. But also knowing that if it was us, it was not really going to be that big of a deal. The big deal is that we're competitive people. So whether it's titley winks, checkers, or The Amazing Race, especially with all of those viewers watching, it's a little bit humbling to get licked like that. But that's all it was, it was just a licking. I've lost a million hockey games, tennis matches, basketball games, you name it, baseball games, that's all it is. It stings for a minute and you move on, that's it. That's what happened and you move on.
THE DEADBOLT: What did you guys think when you were watching the episode?
LISA: I thought they should've given us more air time. We had something to say and they spent a lot of time wanting us to say stuff and they just moved past us really fast. So I didn't really enjoy that.
ERIC: I mean, we were more disappointed than losing the race that way. They spent a lot of time interviewing us because it was the first time. We were like guinea pigs for them and I think we gave them good TV. And they asked us a whole bunch of questions, like you're asking and others have, and they gave us an opportunity to say some things. All we got to see was basically a line from me and a line from Lisa and that was kind of disappointing.
THE DEADBOLT: So when you accepted that you wouldn't be on the race, what did you guys actually take away from the experience?
LISA: Well, I got to walk away with my partner, and I got to walk away knowing that all of the work that Eric and I do in our daily life to prepare for life really paid off. And that, as he said earlier to someone, we're not full of sh*t, we walk our talk. You know, we spend a lot of time every day getting up and studying and having a physical yoga practice and working with people. And when push came to shove in a really uncomfortable stinky moment, the two of us held our heads up and stood together and kept things in perspective.
ERIC: You know, how you ask yourself, "what if you were held up at gunpoint?" and "what if you lost one of your family members suddenly" and "what if you were on The Amazing Race and there was 10.1 million viewers watching and you get your ass kicked in three minutes, how would you do?" You know, how would you react? You always ask yourself the "what if" and you never really know the answers until you experience them. I was very proud of Lisa and I because the very first thought of when it happened, for me, was, "What's for lunch?" I mean, that was really it. It stung for a minute. But it was more painful to have to be interviewed and not just be able to go, "All right, let's go home." But that was it. And that really left me with a wonderful taste in my mouth about the guy that I am and the work that we both did, and that's the real take away. That and a backpack that I'll probably never use, a grey handkerchief that I burned, and some other odds and ends.
LISA: It was a great feeling to know that we had the ability to turn around and say, "no, thank you" to going to the sequester house. We took off and went to India and studied with our guru for that month and were just able to have an amazing summer regardless and we're rooting for everybody in the situation. You know, it sucks that it wasn't us. I personally wanted to run that race once my competitive nature kicked in. I kind of got geared up for it. But on to the next adventure and I hope it works out great for everybody.
THE DEADBOLT: So how do you think the yoga helped you in dealing with the emotions of it.
ERIC: Well, it kept us out of prison, because otherwise ...
LISA: [laughs] It's the truth.
ERIC: I literally would've went homicidal on everybody.
LISA: Which I'm sure you'll see other teams do because people aren't equipped to take that kind of beating. You know, if Eric and I didn't have the practices and the life experiences that we've had, and we've been through so much in our lives, I really think I might have gone off on somebody.
ERIC: Yoga helps you put a value on things in life. The teachings help you realize what's really important and what's not. If you get that backward, you're subject to a lot of stress and strain in life. Most people think their job, their income, their things are real important, and they get stressed and strained over keeping those up and building them. You know, everybody on that show thought winning the race was most important. For Lisa and I, what was most important that day was to remember we're there to be the best human beings we can be, to love each other and to represent our community. That's what was most important. So whether we got it or we didn't, we feel like we did that, and that was it. That's why you didn't see us freaking out. I couldn't have come up with that, I'm not that bright. In fact I'm quite ignorant, as you can see, otherwise we probably would've grabbed the license plate.
THE DEADBOLT: Well, you guys probably would've kicked ass in the duck challenge.
ERIC: We would've loved to have done it.
LISA: We were open for any experiences coming. I think the show was really - Actually, it's been said to us over and over by different producers and people on the show that they were really bummed out to see us go, that they had really planned to do a lot of stories around us. So they'll just have to stay tuned for our own show when it comes out.
THE DEADBOLT: How to you think you would've faired in the wasabi challenge?
LISA: Well, it would've been great, because I would've rigged the roulette table and we would've only gotten a wasabi roll.
ERIC: Yeah, and we're vegan. We don't eat fish. But yeah, that kind of stuff, those kinds of things, especially with the yoga practice, we really do well with being able to kind of remove ourselves mentally and emotionally from something and just thrust our body into action.
LISA: [laughs] It would've been a very hot challenge.
ERIC: I would've breathed fire, man, after that wasabi. But it would've went down. It would've went down fast and would've went down easy with a smile that's for sure.
THE DEADBOLT: Eric, I saw a Native American tattoo on your arm. Can you explain who it is and the significance?
ERIC: Yeah, this guy really interests me. His name is Chief Big Bow and he was a Kiowa Indian and they were the last tribe to be captured. They were mid-westerners and they were traveling the plains and they were given a certain amount of time, a few days, a few weeks, or whatever to get to a camp and surrender. And what he did was: He planned a mass suicide because he didn't want to live any other way in his life other than his ways, his tribe's ways, his philosophy, his beliefs. I had been such a whore in my life where I would've sold my dignity for a tofu sandwich. When I saw this guy, I wanted to put him on my arm and keep him close to my heart to remember not to sell myself short and not to sell out. What's interesting is that if we would've continued on this race, I think in so many ways we would've had to in order to go for the bigger picture. So getting off of the race so soon really took us out of having to make some of those decisions.
-- Reg Seetonhttp://www.thedeadbolt.com/news/106384/eric_lisa_amazing_race15_interview.php